Infrastructure development is key to halt the global economic slowdown, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today as he made a strong case for global investments in India to fill the huge infrastructure gap which requires over USD 1.5 trillion in the next 10 years. "We have been able to sustain growth in the face of global slowdown essentially on the strength of the infrastructure creation in India where the gap is huge," Jaitley, who is in China to attend the Board of Governors of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, said.
"Over the next decade, we require over USD 1.5 trillion in India alone to fill up the infrastructure gap. We also use the additional resource which is available with us as a result of falling prices because that regime helps us," he said, adding that the government intends to connect seven hundred thousand villages with roads by 2019 as part of a massive modernisation plan. Jaitley underlined that infrastructure development is key to halt the global economic slowdown.
"Infrastructure is where inequalities exist and the requirement of large number of economies world over is to fill up this infrastructure gap," he said. Jaitley was addressing a seminar on "Infrastructure and Global Economic Growth" organised by Chinasponsored AIIB along with finance ministers of many countries.
"Over the next decade the world needs trillions of dollars to fill up this gap. I think it is extremely important if the world is to be pulled out from the present slowdown phase, infrastructure development holds the key," he said. He also spoke of massive rural sanitation programme as part of India's current infrastructure programme.
"In terms of highway construction this year alone our target is 10,000 kms. Our railway system is over 100 years old.We are going in for a massive modernisation," he said. Jaitley said the government is seeking private sector participation in converting railway stations into commercial hubs. The government plans to build more airports, sea ports and generate more power, particularly renewable energy which is ecologically also better from all points view, he said.
"These are all the emphasis areas we have undertaken," he said. About arranging funding for the massive development, he said, "We realise that starting point is public finances. It is onlywhen the public finances are put into it, you start attracting and the activity begins with a lot of private funds".
At the same time, there are large number of developmental institutions like the World Bank, ADB which put in lot of money because infrastructure funding also brings in long-term returns on a sustainable basis, Jaitley said. (Beijing PTI)