Club Meeting11 December, Mumbai

Ease of Doing Business in Indian Infra

The GRI Club Infra India held on Tuesday (December 11) a club meeting to discuss the ‘Ease of Doing Business in India’ in view of India's ranking that saw a big jump to 77 from 100 in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. And, therefore, as a consequence of this announcement, the members and special invitees openly discussed about the opportunities and challenges for the Infrastructure sector.

Policy Framework & reforms

In general, it was found that there was quite a significant improvement in terms of reforms being pushed for the Infrastructure sector by the current government, however, for road and related infrastructure projects, land acquisition issues still remain contentious and there wasn’t much improvement on the ground level. Though, North Eastern State projects were gaining high momentum compared to projects in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, most of the projects were State-led and companies have to follow local laws which were rather tedious and time consuming.

Though there aren’t any graft related situation at centre but the same cannot be said about the States. It was pointed out that bidding process for such projects was a good practice, however, the capping system was a huge bottleneck. It was suggested that India should adapt established models in developed countries, like Australia, who follow Alliance business concept which focus mainly on capacity building.

Another suggestion that emerged out for consideration was introduction of an independant ‘PPP Ministry’.


For renewable projects, it was felt that bank finance was getting quite difficult and, to address such situation, the decision making from authorities was missing in the ecosystem. The government has partially implemented few reforms but few more could be done to address the general feeling of resentment. Also, due to regulatory interferences, lenders are wary of Infrastructure investments. In fact, after the recent NBFC crisis, credit market was shrinking and there is hardly any access to capital barring a few like SBI, Yes Bank who were funding few projects.

In the initial stage, renewables gave around 18% return on investment which has now actually reduced to about half. The actual process of Bidding/Auction/Pricing needs to be relooked or sorted out due to which no more renewables can be called a sunshine sector.

Infrastructure Arbitration

It was generally felt that the Infrastructure related arbitration time has gone down, however, arbitration clause is now a standard part of any government agreements. The general structure still remains the same with deal making, timelines etc. The PPP model wasn’t yet balanced between government and operators but still remains more or less prescripted by the authorities. The key fear being the unilateral changes like Demonetisation that was introduced overnight by the authorities which resulted in waiver of toll charges across the country for a long period of time.

It was largely felt that complete trustworthiness of both private and PPP Projects will not go away and will remain as a bone of contention. There is still quite some trust deficit in the agreements, financial institutions. Asset class risk seemed to persist only for Infrastructure sector compared to other sectors. The Infrastructure sector continues to yield about 14% returns over 5 years and around 10% returns over 50 years. The Investors and Lenders still have a different way of looking at such projects.

Interestingly, someone pointed out that governance levels in India were below African nations and under developed nations like Pakistan, however, based on some experience, there was a view that Africa, Soviet union were worse than India on governance factor.


In China, 40% of transportation of goods within the country is through waterways, whereas in India it is currently only about 4-5% despite it being the cheapest and safest route of transportation. The necessary clearances from CRZ authorities to create a jetty and related infrastructure still remains difficult. Therefore, it was suggested that modern technology was now a necessity for creating smart infrastructure in the country.

Tax issues

It was agreed that the pathbreaking reform ‘GST’ which was introduced last year has more or less settled now after the initial issues of implementation which were largely expected. In fact, GST is helping the economy to move from Informal to Formal and thus raise the tax collections which will be seen improving in couple of years time and the results will be clearly visible. Though Direct tax collection still remains a big issue in the country with only about 6 crore assesses amongst 125 crore population and out of the 6 crore assesses only 3 crore individuals were actual taxpayers while the rest filed nil taxes.

Apparently, the country has seen highest foreign fund flows in the last 4 years and therefore improved relationship management was necessary to instill more confidence.
It was also largely felt that Investor protection was a bigger issue in Infrastructure sector.


  • Ease of Doing Business is required on Operational Issues;
  • Risks are similar worldwide. Stop changing the act every year. Bureaucrats should handle the law more than the policy makers;
  • Lot of fundamental changes within the country have taken place in the last 20 years;
  • A significant effort can still be put in the next 10 years to improve further;
  • More global capital will be attracted in the next 120 years;
  • Direction of the government is always in forward thinking so they should take the overall industry views into consideration;
  • Though the intent to improve exists but advocacy is missing.

A few catch words and phrases captured:

Cost of doing business easily is what is important than the Ease of doing business;
The only asset class that can take an economy risk is infrastructure;
In a country like India , standards of government should improve;
Changing perception of government is important;
Despite the shortcomings in the past 20 years, there has never been so much of global capital coming into India;
Indian Stock market has outperformed all markets in the world;
Putting dollars to work is huge in India;
Investor protection though is a huge challenge in infra than other sectors;
Infrastructure: ease of doing business to easy business;
Ease in operating processes - transparency and consistency is what the policies should be;
Creative thinking is what will aid ease of business;
Big picture shows a forward graph;
Fixing the future of Indian Infrastructure.

Advisory Board
Aditya AggarwalAditya AggarwalPartner - India, Global Infra PartnersGlobal Infrastructure Partners
Ashok AgarwalAshok AgarwalDirector & CEOEssel Infra Projects
Avinash SuleAvinash SuleDirectorQatar Investment Authority
Boon Chin HauBoon Chin HauSenior Vice President and Head of Emerging Markets Investments – Infrastructure GroupGIC
Krishna KumarKrishna KumarCEOIL&FS Investment Managers
Krishna Prakash MaheshwariKrishna Prakash MaheshwariChief Executive OfficerAdani Group
Pawan KantPawan KantChief Executive OfficerTRIL Roads Pvt Ltd
Rajiv AgarwalRajiv AgarwalCEO and Managing DirectorEssar Ports Limited (EPL)
Satish D ParakhSatish D ParakhManaging DirectorAshoka Buildcon Ltd
Saurabh AgarwalSaurabh AgarwalRegional Director, InfrastructureCDPQ - Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec
Aditya Aggarwal
Partner - India, Global Infra Partners
Global Infrastructure Partners

Mr. Aggarwal is a founding member of the private infrastructure equities team at IDFC Alternatives. He is a member of the Investment Committee and represents the Funds on various Portfolio Companies Boards. As a part of the leadership team, his current specific responsibilities include fund raising, origination, evaluation and capital deployment across infrastructure sectors along with managing the portfolio and creating exits. He has over 20 years of experience across banking and financial services. Previously, Mr. Aggarwal was with IDFC as a senior member of the project finance team. Prior to IDFC, he was with Standard Chartered Bank where he primarily worked on structured finance and project finance transactions.

Ashok Agarwal
Director & CEO
Essel Infra Projects

Leading Essel Group’s Infra and Utilities business over the last 3 years, Mr. Ashok has been responsible for rapid growth of group’s new ventures & key business verticals of Smart Cities, Integrated Utilities (Power, Water, City Gas Distribution, Solid Waste Management and Cable & Broadband), Core Infrastructure and Green Solutions (Environment & Renewable Energy). With his sharp acumen, Mr.Ashok is instrumental in Essel Group’s foray in Integrated Utilities space and has lead the company in demonstrating executional capability to transform India’s mass utilities sector.

Avinash Sule
Qatar Investment Authority
Segment: Sovereign Wealth Fund
Avinash has been associated with the Qatar Investment Authority (Advisory Pvt Ltd) for the past 9 years, heading their India Office. He leads the investment efforts in Private Equity and Public Equities across sectors and has been actively involved in Real Estate investment strategies such as residential equity, debt and commercial office.
Boon Chin Hau
Senior Vice President and Head of Emerging Markets Investments – Infrastructure Group
Singapura | Singapura
Segment: Pension Fund / SWF / Endowment - Foundation

Chin Hau joined the GIC Infrastructure Group in 2008 and currently has lead coverage responsibility for the Emerging Markets. Prior to joining GIC, Chin Hau was an Investment Manager at Pulsar Energy Capital where he invested in projects across the energy sector in Europe and the Americas. Before Pulsar, Chin Hau was a member of the Infrastructure advisory team at Credit Suisse covering a range of projects in transport, logistics and aerospace. He began his career at Singapore Power where he managed natural gas pipeline projects. Chin Hau has a MEng degree from Imperial College London and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Krishna Kumar
IL&FS Investment Managers
Segment: Private Equity, Infra & Real Estate
Mr Krishna Kumar has over 25 years’ experience in the financial services and infrastructure business. His focus is in private equity, project finance and financial structuring. He has led and advised marquee infrastructure transactions including Gujarat Pipavav Port, IL&FS Transportation, Ramky Enviro Engineers and Maharashtra Natural Gas. He joined the IL&FS Group in 1995 and is one of the founding members of the IL&FS Private Equity practice. He is also the founding member & Principal of the SCI Asia Fund which closed on US$ 658 mn in December 2009. He has participated in divesting 16 investments achieving a gross IRR of 28% with a 2.8x cash multiple. In his present role he leads an investment team of 45 professionals.
Krishna Prakash Maheshwari
Chief Executive Officer
Adani Group
Pawan Kant
Chief Executive Officer
TRIL Roads Pvt Ltd

Mr. Pawan Kant joined the company since its inception in 2007. He has spearheaded multiple functions in the company,as Business Head - SEZ division; the Project Management division and is currently mandated to grow TRIL Roads Private Limited, the road holding platform of TRIL, as CEO.

Rajiv Agarwal
CEO and Managing Director
Essar Ports Limited (EPL)
Segment: Port Operator
Satish D Parakh
Managing Director
Ashoka Buildcon Ltd
As the Promoter & MD of Ashoka Buildcon, Satish's association with Ashoka Buildcon Ltd. began in 1982. Under his leadership, the company entered into the National Level infrastructure development space specialising in highways, bridges & power T&D. Today, Ashoka Buildcon Ltd. Is one of the top five highway developers. Satish has been honoured &felicitated by various forums including the ‘Industry Doyen’ award by Construction Industry Development Council. He has earlier carried out responsibilities as Vice President of National Highways Builders Federation (NHBF)and Chairman of Institution of Engineers (Nashik Chapter).
Saurabh Agarwal
Regional Director, Infrastructure
CDPQ - Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

Tuesday, December 11th

4:00pm - 4:30pm | Registrations

4:30pm - 5:30pm | Discussions

5:30pm - 6:30pm | Hi-tea networking

Pedro Nicolau

Pedro Nicolau

Global Head of Infrastructure & Portfolio Director for India

+55 (19) 3203-0645

[email protected]
Aanurag Dhoot

Aanurag Dhoot

Club Director, Infrastructure in Club India

+91 99877 53824

[email protected]
Pedro Nicolau
+55 (19) 3203-0645
Global Head of Infrastructure & Portfolio Director for India
GRI Club

Pedro Nicolau is the global head of Infrastructure of the GRI Club, which brings together the core players in both this sector and the real estate industry in more than 20 countries. He manages the entire platform of conferences and member-exclusive activities active in infrastructure sectors worldwide. He is also in charge of the club division focused on real estate in India.

A multicultural professional, Pedro has an extensive network of global relationships and a broad experience in the transportation infrastructure, mobility, sanitation and events industries. He holds a degree in Foreign Affairs from the renowned Brazilian university Unesp.

Aanurag Dhoot
+91 99877 53824
Club Director, Infrastructure in Club India
GRI Club
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