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NDA better on infra metrics than UPA tenure, says Nirmala Sitharaman

India saves Rs 4.8 trillion on logistics cost every year, said Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman,Nirmala,Finance Minister

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (File Photo: PTI)

Dhruvaksh Saha New Delhi

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The central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has delivered more on infrastructure creation than the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday.

“Share of capital expenditure (capex) in total expenditure dropped sharply under UPA. From 23 per cent in 2003-04, it dropped quickly to an average of 12 per cent from 2005-2014. Imagine the opportunity cost lost due to @INCIndia (Indian National Congress) not investing adequately in capex,” Sitharaman wrote on social media.

She added, “Our government significantly increased the outlay for capex. As a proportion of total expenditure, capex rose to over 21 per cent in 2023-24 (FY24), compared to just 12 per cent in 2013-14.”

The BJP government has spent 3.7 times more on infrastructure creation than its predecessor, she said, citing a National Institute of Public Finance and Policy report which finds that capex has a multiplier effect of 4.8 times on the economy.

Sitharaman cited the Cabinet secretary, who in 2013 said that many large projects both in the public sector as well as the private sector, especially in infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, had been held up for investment on account of delays in obtaining various approvals/clearances.

However, the latest quarterly report by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation says that currently, 779 projects valued at Rs 150 crore and above are facing delays, and 449 projects have incurred cost escalation of Rs 5 trillion, cumulatively.

According to Sitharaman, the national highway network has expanded by 60 per cent from 91,287 kilometre (km) in 2014 to 146,145 km by the year 2023; compared to a 39 per cent expansion from 65,569 km to 91,287 km between 2004 and 2014.

“Enhanced road connectivity attracts investments and boosts local businesses by improving market access and reducing logistics costs. Due to better roads, there is a significant potential savings of Rs 2.4-4.8 trillion annually in logistics costs,” Sitharaman said.

India's rank in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index has been rising steadily over the past years — currently at 38.

Since 2014, the Metro network has expanded around 4 times, from 248 km of operational lines in five cities to 939 km in 20 cities, the minister said.

She added that 374,000 km of rural roads have been built under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, almost double of 381,000 km of rural roads built until 2014.

“Over 99 per cent of rural habitations are now linked with rural roads,” she said.

Moreover, 14,985 route kilometre (rkm) of rail track work was done whereas, in the past nine years (2014-23), 25,871 rkm of track laying work has been done, Sitharaman said.

From 4 km per day in 2014, the Indian Railways has executed daily track laying of 14.5 km in FY24 (5,300 km).

Sitharaman added that container dwell times for ports in India outrank advanced economies such as the US and Germany.

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First Published: May 15 2024 | 9:56 PM IST

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