Expressing its displeasure over a whopping Rs 97,115 crore debt servicing liability on National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), a Parliamentary penal has asked the authority to explore restructuring of existing debt and look for options to raise long-term funds.

The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, in its report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday also asked NHAI to prioritise its delayed road projects.

“The Committee is distressed to note the huge debt servicing liability of NHAI in the upcoming years,” the 31-member panel chaired by TG Venkatesh said pointing out debt servicing liability of Rs 38,997 crore for 2021-22, Rs 28,800 crore for 2022-23 and Rs 29,318 crore for 2023-24.

The committee notes that the debt servicing liability of NHAI for the next three Financial Years is even higher than the estimates that the Ministry had provided to the Committee during its examination of Demands for Grants (2020-21) of the Ministry, it said.

“The Committee recommends that NHAI may prioritise the completion of its delayed road projects to prevent further cost escalation in such projects. The Committee further recommends the NHAI to explore restructuring of its existing debt and prepare proposals to raise long-term funds through the upcoming Development Financial Institution announced in the Budget Speech (2021-22),” the report said.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Budget on February 1, 2021 had announced that a sum of Rs 20,000 crore has been provisioned in the Budget to capitalise a Development Financial Institution (DFI).

“The ambition is to have a lending portfolio of at least Rs 5 lakh crore for this DFI in three years time,” she had said, adding a Bill will be introduced to set up the DFI which will act as a provider, enabler and catalyst for infrastructure financing.

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