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India sees $3 bn in highway tolls, tax revenue

business Updated: Sep 18, 2009 21:38 IST

Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath said he expects to start securitising an estimated annual $3 billion (around Rs 14,400 crore) revenue stream from highway tolls and levies on petrol and diesel within the next six months.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of an Indian investment conference, Nath said the $1 billion (Rs 4,800 crore) in toll revenue “will go up to $2 billion in two to three years.” The levies on petrol and diesel are expected to bring in $2 billion a year, he said.

“In the next six months we’ll set up the various instruments for securitising our tolls, securitising our cess (levy) and other instruments for government borrowing,” Nath said.

In mid-July, the National Highways Development Authority (NHAI) said it plans to raise around Rs 5,000 crore of debt in the year to March 2010.

Nath said that he has met with several investors, both private equity and pension fund managers while in New York.

“I met just this morning with Kravis (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co). I had meetings with Morgan Stanley and I had meetings with several pension funds,” he said, identifying potential investors for the first time.

The objective is to sell equity in the special purpose vehicles the government intends to set up for building the roads.

Nath said much of the cash will come from foreign investors.

“Infrastructure is our biggest challenge,” Nath told investors, adding that he is aware that government bureaucracy needs to be slashed and that there are still many problems in changing mindsets and attitudes.

“Yes, sometimes we are slow but we are going to reform. The next decade has to be the decade of infrastructure.”