New Delhi: With a view to propel the economy over nine per cent growth trajectory in the coming years, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee unveiled a slew of measures to boost investment in the infrastructure sector.

The measures include the issuance of tax-free bonds worth Rs 30,000 crore and extending income tax exemption on tax-saving infrastructure bonds up to a maximum of Rs 20,000
for one more year.

Presenting the Union Budget for 2011-12, Mukherjee said the government intends to spend Rs 2.14 lakh crore as budgetary support for the infrastructure sector in 2011-12 and will set up an infra debt fund to promote foreign investment in the sector.

"We will introduce special infrastructure debt funds to attract foreign financing in infrastructure," he said.

Mukherjee said the Indian Railways Finance Corporation (IRFC) and National Highways Authority of India Limited (NHAI) will issue tax-free bonds of Rs 10,000 crore each, while
tax-free bonds worth Rs 5,000 crore each will be issued by HUDCO and the port sector, respectively.

He also announced that foreign portfolio investment would be permitted in SEBI-registered mutual funds and hiked the FII investment limit by an additional USD 20 billion for investment in infrastructure-related sectors.

With this step, he said that FIIs will be eligible to invest up to USD 40 billion in corporate bonds, including a total of USD 25 billion in the infrastructure sector.

Mukherjee also said the government has kept a target for spending Rs 2.14 lakh crore in the infrastructure sector, accounting for about 48.5 per cent of Gross Budgetary Support of total plan expenditure.

The Finance Minister added that Indian Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL) will disburse loans worth about Rs 20,000 crore by the end of this fiscal for investment in the infrastructure sector. He also said that cold storage chains would be given infrastructure status.

(Agencies)