The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) will start funding activities in the next few days as it has got commitments from several sovereign wealth funds, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said. “Even though the NIIF has become operational and in the next few days from now it will start its major activities,” Jaitley said while addressing Best Practices in PPPs and Long-term Infrastructure Financing of BRICS Countries seminar in New Delhi.
The government had set up the Rs 40,000-crore fund in December last year as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects. It was envisioned as a mother fund with several sectoral feeder funds. “We are awaiting a lot of commitments from various sovereign funds to become either contributors to the main fund itself or to the different sector of infrastructure sector itself which will go into this particular fund (umbrella fund NIIF),” he said.
“I think our model is in the process of evolving and therefore with a large amount of infrastructure needs, which can really be the key to Indian investment and economic activities over the next several years, which can keep growth rate at a high level. This model has to be perfected,” he said. Noting that there were certain challenges with regard to NIIF, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said investors were more interested in investing in specific, dedicated, sectoral fund rather than all-purpose, multi-sector umbrella fund.
Subsequently, the government had to restructure and recast the structure and begin with two sectorally dedicated funds namely highway sector and clean energy fund, he said. “So, there will be two separate funds that is clean energy fund which will primarily focus on renewable energy, and there will be another fund which is road funds which will take up road projects. These are two funds that we are setting up,” Das said.
Speaking about investor who are keen to participate in India’s sovereign fund, Das said, “We have signed MoUs with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Rusnano and we have understanding with the UK treasury and the US treasury. “There are 2-3 proposals and MoUs to be signed. There is a lot of investment appetite. Its just a matter of weeks or one or two months at best activities taking place.”
He also said the bigger investment are interest in the dedicated funds and there is a lot of interest by multilateral institutions and others in funds of the fund. “The umbrella fund will continue, but at the same time we are also moving on so those who invest in dedicated funds will also take stake in the bigger fund,” he added.