National industry body Assocham plans to undertake a comprehensive study of private sector investments in the economy and ascertain the next phase of measures needed to propel the country’s growth story, its new President Sanjay Nayar has said.

This study would especially help enhance the ease of doing business and reduce regulatory compliance, Nayar told businessline in an interview.

“In general I would agree that there is much more that is expected from the private sector in terms of investments to match the efforts being made by government. We need to understand what more needs to be done to drive this growth.

The government has not only stepped up and done a great job on spending from its balance sheet for the last four to five years, they have also managed the fiscal deficit well”, Nayar said.

Assocham also plans to focus on identifying and pushing alternate methods of financing for mid-sized corporates. A lot of mid-sized businesses don’t have easy access to low-cost capital, he noted.

Nayar however noted that the rising government debt is a matter of “mild concern” and if not addressed, this number can keep increasing while the deficit can remain intact. “Our total debt-to-GDP is a number that we have to keep an eye on because it crowds out the private savings. Then the only way you can bridge the investment saving gap is by importing savings”, Nayar said.

Activate asset monetisation

Nayar, who is a well-known name in global financial markets and Founder and Chairman, Sorin Investment Fund, also stressed the need to revitalise and activate the Asset Monetisation Programme and the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), given that India is well-positioned to draw foreign investments.

“This asset monetisation should be priority for the new government in its first hundred days in office. The current lag isn’t because the government lost interest, rather it was preoccupied with covid and its unprecedented impact on the economy”, Nayar said.

“Now it’s an opportune time for India when it is such a globally attractive destination. From every aspect—political stability, sovereign strength and a large market. It would be the right time to activate it post-elections and you will get a lot of FDI in this space”.

Through NMP, the government sought to establish a medium-term pipeline along with a roadmap for “monetisation-ready” assets.

The NMP comprises a four-year pipeline programme of the Central government’s brownfield infrastructure assets. It estimates an aggregate monetisation potential of ₹ 6 lakh crores through core assets of the Central Government, over a four-year period, from FY22 to FY25.

Developed in the backdrop of the unprecedented Covid-induced economic and fiscal shocks, NMP lists out assets and asset classes, under various infrastructure ministries, which will be monetised over a period of time. It is time for the government to focus on monetising operating assets such as roads, highways, transmission grids and oil gas pipelines.

On the other hand, Asset Monetisation, based on the philosophy of Creation through Monetisation, is aimed at tapping private sector investment for new infrastructure creation.

It also creates employment opportunities, thereby enabling high economic growth and integrating the rural and semi-urban areas for overall public welfare. The NMP comprises a four-year pipeline programme of the Central government’s brownfield infrastructure assets.

Startup council

Nayar also said that Assocham plans to set up an empowered council for Startups. This initiative would come on the heels of recent startups Mahakumbh, which, according to Nayar, was a big success. “This council will be a window for startups to reach out and get guidance on business model and governance from a panel of experts and founders who can spare their time to hand-hold the new startups”, he said.