Private Partnership in Infrastructure Investment in India

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Addressing to the Indian Economic Summit’s session, on Tuesday, the 18th of Nov. 2008, the State Minister of Industry, Mr. Ashwini Kumar declared that Rs 500 billion would be invested by the Central Government with public-private partnership in infrastructure pertaining projects. According to him this investment would lure demand to boost economic growth. In the prevailing time when Indian economy is under threat of the entrance of world depression 2008, such type of a big dose of investment in infrastructure is desirable to barricade against the entering depression. But, the private partnership may hamper the way of receiving the desired results.


When talking about investment, it is categorized as the induced investment and the autonomous investment. Induced investment is that investment which is induced by profit motive in a free enterprise capitalist economy. It produces commodities and thereby it can be termed as ‘directly productive investment’. Establishment of a productive unit which produces consumption or capital goods comes under the category of the directly productive investment. It changes with a change in (national) income that is why it is also called income elastic investment. Induced investment is incurred especially to produce larger output.


On the other hand, the autonomous investment is the investment which is not induced by profit motive. It is not sensitive to changes in income. It is also known as public investment and is incurred in direct response to inventions and much of the long range investment which is only expected to pay for itself over a long period. Autonomous investment is generally associated with such factors as introduction of new production techniques, new products, development of new resources or growth of population. Autonomous investment generates favorable environment for production. An autonomous investment is never profit motivated and that is why it is always suggested to be undertaken by government instead of private investors. Autonomous investment does not directly produce goods. It creates external economies whereby the cost of production sustained by the producing firms is lowered. Thus, their profit is increased whereby the firms are induced to produce more. In this way the autonomous investment indirectly helps to increase production. Moreover, autonomous investment generates general utility services to the general public which they can’t afford to purchase.


Autonomous investment is autonomous only to the extent it is free of profit. If this investment is made by private investors they can’t help earning profit. Therefore, the producers will have to pay for the external economies and the general public will have either to go without the generated general utility services or will be exploited for they will have to pay high to avail the services. Thus, in a developing economy where cost of production is high, general mass is poor and markets are undeveloped the autonomous investment will lose its importance if given in private hands. In this way, autonomous investment is made of two different portions. One is that which can never be given in private hands irrespective of the fact whether the economy is developed or developing. Therefore, this portion of autonomous investment is a true autonomous investment. The investment incurred in the projects pertaining to national security, law and order maintenance, international relations, world peace, general governance, epidemics eradication, general health, poverty alleviation, public welfare etc. comes under this type of autonomous investment. The remaining portion of autonomous investment is that which can be (and is generally) given in private hands in a developed economy. In a developed economy sufficiently a high level of income is achieved, the distribution of income is almost equal, market is extended and developed, general poverty stands alleviated and cost of production is quite low on account of capital based modern technology. Hence, the producers can easily pay for external economies and people can pay for many of the general utility services. Therefore, in a developed economy, the portion of autonomous investment to be incurred in the projects like road transport, construction of highways, construction of bridges, power and electricity, civil aviation, sea transport, education etc. can be (and generally is) given in private hands. This portion of autonomous investment, being however similar to the previous one (above said true autonomous investment) in a developing economy, but thus becomes profit motivated and is converted into induced investment in a developed economy. In other words, this portion behaves as autonomous investment in a developing economy but is converted to and starts behaving as induced investment in a developed economy. Therefore, this portion of autonomous investment can be regarded as the convertible investment or the dual investment.


            The above  concludes that investment can be categorized as the autonomous investment, the dual investment and the induced investment. The autonomous investment should be exclusively incurred by the government in both the developed and the developing economies and, similarly, the induced investment should be incurred by private investors in both the economies. As regards to the dual investment, it should be incurred by government in a developing economy and by private investors in a developed economy. However, a partnership of government and private investors may be desirable in case of the dual investment if the economy has entered into the stage nearest to the full development. It is similar to the case of the partnership of government and private investors in induced investment in early stages of development in a developing economy. The Indian economy seems to have travelled though a long on the development path but it has not so far achieved such a high stage of development which may allow private hands to participate in the dual investment. General poverty still persists there, income distribution is highly unequal, technology is not fully capital based, cost of production is high, and much more. Therefore, the dual investment in Indian economy still needs to be incurred exclusively by the government. Therefore, the partnership of government and private investors in case of the declared investment worth Rs 500 billion, referred to in the beginning hereof, is not desirable. The loss to the producers and the poor general mass on account of so far brought about privatization of the past is not a latent fact. All the same, if the government somehow feels itself helpless to desist from accepting the partnership, it must not at all allow it beyond the dual investment. In more clear words, the Government of India must keep the (true) autonomous investment fully intact from the private partnership and may allow the partnership in the dual investment but only to a limited extent if the partnership can not be fully abandoned.


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