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US$ 1 billion fund in the works for stressed assets, renewable projects: Piyush Goyal

Economic Times:  August 29, 2016

New Delhi: The power ministry plans to set up two funds of $1 billion each to enable alternative financing options for stressed power assets and renewable energy projects. The two funds have been proposed under the ambit of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).

"NIIF is the fund of funds within which we will set up a sub-fund which will focus on renewable energy projects and give investment support for faster ramp up of renewable energy. It is under our active consideration and we may launch it in the near future," power minister Piyush Goyal told ET in an interview. "We are also in dialogue with certain bankers to see if we could look at a stressed power asset fund. It may take us some more months to put its framework in place."

Asked about the size of the funds, Goyal said, "Each of these funds could easily be of the size of $1 billion." The government set up the Rs 40,000 crore NIIF in December as an investment vehicle to fund commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects. The power ministry's renewable energy fund will be seeded with initial capital from a few state-run companies and will be driven largely by the private sector.

"It will be run and managed by an investment manager who will be chosen through international bidding. We would like to keep the entire fund very professionally managed - something like a Temasek or a GIC model. We have the entire framework in place. We have also got investment commitments of REC, PFC and NTPC already lined up. This fund can be launched quickly," Goyal said. Temasek and GIC are Singapore government-owned investment firms.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had sought investment from Singapore in NIIF at a meeting on Friday with visiting Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Goyal said the Centre is working on a mega investment plan for the power sector that includes extending investment support to the tune of Rs 1.1 lakh crore to states under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana and the Integrated Power Development Scheme. Additional investments worth over Rs 1 lakh crore will materialise through the implementation of four planned ultra mega power projects of 4,000 MW capacity each.

Goyal said the recent rationalisation of rail freight rates for coal transport and the cut in prices of higher-grade coal will help to ease costly imports of the fuel. "We have also regulated coal output in the past few months, resulting in some depletion of stocks at coal mines and power stations," he said.

The minister said he hoped distribution utilities in Haryana would start reporting profits next year and Rajasthan discoms would turn profitable in 2019 with the implementation of the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana scheme.

He said controversy over electrification of Nagla Fatela village in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh was a "blatant attempt by the state government at misleading the centre."

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.