New Delhi, Nov 3 (IANS/101 Reporters) In recent years, Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) have become significant players in the Indian financial market. These investment instruments have gained prominence due to their ability to mobilise capital and offer investors a stable avenue for long-term returns. In this blogpost, we will explore the evolution of InvITs in India, their importance within the financial ecosystem, and how they are reshaping the infrastructure financing landscape.
A regulatory journey
The journey of InvITs in India began with a cautious regulatory approach, initially facing limitations and restrictions that hindered their growth potential. However, over the years, the regulatory landscape has evolved significantly. Key regulators like the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) have played pivotal roles in shaping InvIT regulations.
One notable development was the expansion of investor participation. Insurance companies, mutual funds, pension funds and retail investors were gradually allowed to invest in InvITs. This broadening of investor participation has transformed InvITs into an inclusive financial instrument accessible to a wide range of investors.
The Indian financial market has witnessed a remarkable shift in investor confidence regarding InvITs. In the early stages, educating investors about their working required substantial effort. However, today, investors focus more on understanding the underlying businesses rather than the technical aspects of InvITs.
Investor confidence has also grown due to the success stories of early adopters. InvITs have delivered stable returns, making them an attractive choice for investors seeking consistent income streams. Additionally, the maturity of the Indian market has enabled investors to distinguish between well-structured InvITs and poorly managed ones, further boosting confidence.
InvITs have not only gained acceptance but have also diversified into various infrastructure sectors. Initially focused on transmission assets, they have expanded into acquiring renewable energy assets. This diversification is a testament to the adaptability and growth potential of InvITs.
The renewable energy challenge
One of the pressing challenges in the Indian renewable energy sector has been the aggressive tariff wars. Lower tariffs have raised concerns about project viability and long-term sustainability. However, these concerns have also driven innovation and efficiency in the sector. They have pushed companies to optimise operations and enhance asset quality. Over time, quality will prevail, and investors who patiently wait for truth to emerge will be rewarded.
The role of technology
While InvITs currently appear to be a financing game, the role of technology cannot be understated. Technological advancements such as highly efficient solar panels can reshape the industry's economics. If India can transition from being a mere assembler of modules to a hub for solar research and development, it could lead to substantial gains in efficiency and affordability.
While regulations have come a long way, there are still some areas where improvements can be made. For instance, addressing the capital gains tax anomaly for InvITs compared to other asset classes can encourage more significant participation. Additionally, allowing InvITs and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) as eligible instruments under Section 54 EC for capital gains tax exemption can channelise capital from the informal cash economy into a formal and transparent financial market.
The journey of InvITs in India reflects a remarkable evolution in the financial landscape. From cautious beginnings to becoming a household name among investors, InvITs have played a pivotal role in infrastructure financing. With a conducive regulatory environment, growing investor confidence, and the potential for technological advancements, InvITs are poised to shape the future of infrastructure investment in India. As they continue to evolve and diversify, they hold the promise of providing stable returns, transforming the cash economy and contributing to the nation's development in the years to come.
(This is an excerpt from an episode of the India Energy Hour).