Source: The Economic Times, Jan 10, 2017
MUMBAI: Canadian pension funds, armed with $3 billion, may soon invest in the development of Maharashtra. The Canadian government is in talks with officials in Maharashtra to deploy its pension funds for creating a water grid, financing the housingfor-all schemes, helping the upcoming International Finance Centre at BKC, setting up smart cities, and even in boosting the IT sector.
Amarjeet Sohi, Canadian minister for infrastructure and communities, who will visit Maharashtra this week, is supposed to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday to tie the loose ends, said top state government officials. After Sohi’s visit, Fadnavis will be leaving for Canada sometime in February to close the deal.
According to state officials, at least $3 billion will be pumped into different sectors in the initial plan. Canadian companies are looking at a 2% risk premium over Canada’s treasury yield on their investments.
State government officials said that Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Sunlife Insurance Company, and Fairfax are keen on investing in Maharashtra. “This is just the start, the $3 billion that we are talking about is just the initial thing. Once things start moving, there will be more investments lined up,” said an official.
Sohi may be joined by representatives from the Brookfield Asset Management company during Thursday’s meeting. Brookfield is eager to partner the state government on the housing-for-all project. The company is interested in teaming up with developers in India by lending their expertise in building prefabricated structures for housing. “A building can be built within two months flat if we use this method,” said people familiar with the matter.
Officials said there wouldn’t be a recurrence of disasters like last year’s drought in the state which forced the Railways to run goods trains to transport water to a parched Latur if the state government can build a water grid in drought-hit areas of the state with the help of Canadian firms.
For instance, once the water grid is ready, entire Marathwada could be connected with a huge network of pipelines which would be connected to water bodies. Officials said that the Canadian auto component suppliers are likely to go for a tie-up with industrial auto clusters in Walunj, Aurangabad to enable them to make car components.
A part of the investment could be used for making defence components for vehicles used by the armed forces. Other areas where the investment could be deployed are development and planning of smart cities, building the International Finance Centre at BKC, and providing IT-based solutions.