Toll rate freeze dampens investor sentiment
ECONOMY & POLICY

Toll rate freeze dampens investor sentiment

The decision of the Union government not to revise toll rates on the national highways is perceived as politically strategic but economically unsound, potentially deterring investors from engaging in the proposed sale of road assets.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, with the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in mind, has opted to delay the adjustment of toll charges on national highways. However, it is anticipated that toll rates will be increased following the elections.

According to an official familiar with the matter, international investors expressed discouragement following the government's decision to freeze toll rates until the polls. They also expressed concerns that such interventions in the future could diminish stakeholder interest. The customary revision of toll rates, which typically occurs annually on April 1, has been deferred this year due to the Lok Sabha elections.

In addition to toll rates, another potential concern for investors is the quality of the roads being offered in the market, as these factors significantly influence the interest of international stakeholders.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways aims to generate up to Rs 600 billion in the current financial year (2024-25) through a combination of instruments including Toll Operate Transfer (TOT) and Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT), as stated by the aforementioned official.

In the preceding financial year (2023-24), the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways successfully raised Rs 403.14 billion through asset monetization, surpassing the target of Rs 289.68 billion. This achievement encompassed projects under Toll Operate Transfer (TOT) and Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT).

The decision of the Union government not to revise toll rates on the national highways is perceived as politically strategic but economically unsound, potentially deterring investors from engaging in the proposed sale of road assets. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, with the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in mind, has opted to delay the adjustment of toll charges on national highways. However, it is anticipated that toll rates will be increased following the elections. According to an official familiar with the matter, international investors expressed discouragement following the government's decision to freeze toll rates until the polls. They also expressed concerns that such interventions in the future could diminish stakeholder interest. The customary revision of toll rates, which typically occurs annually on April 1, has been deferred this year due to the Lok Sabha elections. In addition to toll rates, another potential concern for investors is the quality of the roads being offered in the market, as these factors significantly influence the interest of international stakeholders. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways aims to generate up to Rs 600 billion in the current financial year (2024-25) through a combination of instruments including Toll Operate Transfer (TOT) and Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT), as stated by the aforementioned official. In the preceding financial year (2023-24), the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways successfully raised Rs 403.14 billion through asset monetization, surpassing the target of Rs 289.68 billion. This achievement encompassed projects under Toll Operate Transfer (TOT) and Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT).

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