New Delhi: Aiming to speed up airport modernisation projects, a Parliamentary committee has made a strong pitch for grant of financial autonomy to Airports Authority of India (AAI) and allowing it to raise funds through tax-free bonds.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, in its latest report, noted that "the much-emphasised financial autonomy to AAI to plan and execute its projects has not materialised so far".
The Committee, headed by CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, said it hoped that the Civil Aviation Ministry "will impress the Ministry of Finance in granting permission to AAI to float tax-free bonds to raise funds so that the ongoing and planned airport projects are not stalled or delayed for want of funds".
The AAI, a mini-ratna, has long been awaiting the Finance Ministry's approval to its proposal to raise Rs 3,000 crore through tax-free infrastructure bonds to fund various airport development and modernisation projects.
The Committee's 174th report, tabled in the Parliament last week, also asked the government to "lend a helping hand to AAI" in recovering its outstanding dues from various agencies for the services rendered to them so that its cash flow was maintained at the desired level.
Besides undertaking the modernisation of Chennai and Kolkata airports, the AAI is also working on upgrading 35 non-metro airports.
Chennai and Kolkata airports are being developed through internal resources and loans raised by AAI to the tune of Rs 1,600 crore which is estimated to go up to Rs 3,000 crore.