Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. (Reuters)
India’s 12 major ports as well as some shipping entities may raise loans amounting to Rs 50,000 crore in US dollars at nominal interest rates to provide fillip to infrastructure, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said. After Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust’s (JNPT’s) $400 million foreign denominated loan, another major Port Kamrajar (earlier Ennore) is in the process of raising $100 million, the Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister told PTI.
This is for the first time that the Centre-owned major ports are raising foreign denominated loans; so far the practice has been followed only by private players.
“To boost ports and shipping infrastructure, there is no dearth of funds… Our 12 major ports and entities like Shipping Corporation and Dredging Corporation may take Rs 50,000 crore loan in US dollar at a very low interest rate of 2 per cent,” Gadkari said.
He added: “This mode of financing at low interest rates and natural hedging has been followed in the major ports for their infrastructure development for the first time,” he said.
An official said meanwhile that another major port – Kandla Port Trust is also planning to soon raise USD 150 million through external commercial borrowing (ECB).
JNPT had last year signed the pact with SBI and Singapore’s DBS for $400 million loan, which prompted other players, besides Shipping Corporation, Dredging Corporation and Cochin Shipyard, to take the same route.
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India has 12 major ports — Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambaranar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) which handle approximately 61 per cent of the country’s total cargo traffic.
Boosted by a slew of steps the major ports surpassed private players by handling a record 673.43 million tonnes of cargo in 2016-17.
Major ports under the Centre handled a record 647.43 million tonnes (MT) of cargo in 2016-17 registering an annual growth rate of 6.79 per cent against 4.32 per cent in 2015-16.