New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting her maiden Union Budget, made it amply clear that the focus would be on making structural reforms to achieve the targeted USD 5 trillion economy in the next few years. (Also read: Sitharaman Ditches Briefcase For Traditional Bahi-khata)

Recognising the need to invest in Railways, Sitharaman pointed out that its infrastructure needs Rs 50 lakh crore till 2030.  She said that the Public-Private Partnership model would be unleashed to develop rail infrastructure. “PPP to be used to unleash faster development and the delivery of passenger freight services,” she said.

With the expenditure of Rs 1.4 to 1.6 lakh crore per year, it could take decades to complete the projects. “It is, therefore, necessary to privatise,” she said.

The ambitious project of Bharatmala will enhance road connectivity. Sagarmala will help port and waterways connectivity, she said. “These along with other such initiatives such as Udaan scheme will improve India’s infrastructure, enable connectivity, and bridge the rural and urban divide,” said Sitharaman.

Also, India is the world’s third-largest aivation market so it was time to enter aircraft financing and leasing from Indian shores, she said.

A comprehensive restructuring of National Highways Programme will be done, to ensure the creation of National Highways Grid of desirable capacity.

Using rivers for cargo transport would also help decongest roads and railways, said the minister.

She said the government recognised the need to upgrade roads. She said, “With the changing economic scenario, it’s important to upgrade roads connecting villages to rural markets. For this, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana phase 3 is envisaged to upgrade 1,25,000 km of road length over the next five years.”

In what would give a boost to the aviation industry, the minister said that the Government would open doors to Foreign Direct Investment. She said FDI would be invited in aviation among several other industries like media and animation.