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‘NIIF to be major source of infra funding from next fiscal’

Pinning hopes on foreign investors including SWFs and pension funds, the government on Thursday said it expects NIIF to become a major source of funding for infrastructure projects from the next fiscal. 

India’s maiden Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), NIIF, in which government will hold 49 per cent, will be mother-fund under which there would be several funds, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said at the India Investment Summit here.

The 2-day summit will have 250 participants and 91 delegates from various countries. National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) will fund projects that are “commercially viable”, he said while seeking support from various foreign funds from Canada, US, UK, Singapore and UAE. Government will provide the initial seed capital and the intention is to have investors come in with funds that are multiple times more, he said. “The essence of NIIF is that it can leverage and bring a lot of money into the infrastructure sector. The kind of the response that we have been getting from our interaction with various funds, I have the confidence that in the coming years say 2016-17 and thereafter NIIF will emerge as major vehicle in infrastructure sector in the country,” he said. 

NIIF will have professional management which will do due diligence before investing in a project, he said, adding that the government has already identified about 6 projects in the railways and highways sectors which could be funded through this investment vehicle. 

Pitching for investment in infrastructure sector, Das said India continues to be a bright spot in turbulent times and an attractive destination for foreign investment. The country saw recently the biggest reforms in FDI norms, he said, adding the Government is committed to preserve the economic strength of the nation. 

FinMin receives 70 applications for NIIF Chief Executive’s post
Finance Ministry has received over 70 application for the post of chief executive of India’s maiden sovereign wealth fund. “We are in the process of selecting CEO of NIIF. The CEO will be drawn from the market... We have received 70 applications,” Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said on Thursday. The government in December had set up the Rs 40,000 crore NIIF, which is an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of India Investment Summit, Das said the government has already identified 5-6 infrastructure projects in railways and highways sector.
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