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Skepticism abounds over whether the nearly $3 trillion Indian economy is growing fast enough to reach Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s GDP target of $5 trillion by 2024-2025. But signs suggest that economic activity may have bottomed out, and foreign institutional investors are placing big bets on India’s infrastructure sector, according to participants in a panel discussion at the recent Wharton India Economic Forum held in Mumbai.

对于印度近3万亿美元的经济增长速度,能否足以达到莫迪总理提出的到2024-2025年国内生产总值5万亿美元的目标,人们普遍持怀疑态度。但最近在孟买举行的沃顿商学院印度经济论坛的一场小组讨论的参与者表示,有迹象表明,印度经济活动可能已经触底,外国机构投资者正大举押注于印度的基础设施行业。

Foreign investors are attracted to cash-flow generating assets like existing airports to operate and use as a cushion to invest in greenfield projects, the panelists said. They are optimistic also because of improved transparency in governance of projects, auction systems for allocation of licensing for public resources, the existence of a top tier of well-managed private companies and other market mechanisms such as the creation of funding platforms for infrastructure, they noted.

该小组成员表示,外国投资者被现金流产生的资产所吸引,比如现有的机场,这些资产可以用来运营和作为投资绿地项目的缓冲。 他们指出,他们感到乐观的另一个原因是,项目治理的透明度得到提高,为公共资源分配许可证的拍卖制度,有一批管理良好的一流私营公司的存在,以及为基础设施建立融资平台等其他市场机制。

In order to reach its GDP goal of $5 trillion, India’s economy will need to grow at a sustained rate of 9% over the next five years, according to C. Rangarajan, former governor of the Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on January 20 sharply revised downward India’s growth forecast by 130 basis points to 4.8% for 2019-2020. In its World Economic Outlook upxe, IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said growth in India slowed sharply “owing to stress in the non-bank financial sector and weak rural income growth.”

印度央行前行长兰加拉詹说,为了达到5万亿美元的国内生产总值目标,印度经济需要在未来五年保持9% 的持续增长率。 国际货币基金组织1月20日大幅下调印度2019-2020年经济增长预期130个基点,至4.8%。IMF首席经济学家戈皮纳特在《世界经济展望》最新报告中表示“由于非银行金融部门的压力和农村收入增长疲软”,印度经济增长大幅放缓。

Three Metrics That Matter

三个重要的指标



The Indian government is trying to make financing available for infrastructure projects. One is the creation of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund with investors such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Temasek of Singapore and the HDFC Group. The government has also announced Rs. 100 trillion ($1.4 trillion) in infrastructure projects covering the power, railways, urban irrigation, mobility, education and health sectors. Efforts to sell stressed assets of India’s public sector banks and divest government holdings in state-owned corporations are other encouraging signs.

印度政府正试图为基础设施项目提供融资。 一个是国家投资和基础设施基金的创立,投资者包括新加坡阿布扎比投资局银行、新加坡淡马锡和HDFC集团。政府还宣布了100万亿里亚尔(1.4万亿美元)的基础设施项目,涵盖电力、铁路、城市灌溉、交通、教育和卫生部门。 另外一些令人鼓舞的迹象是,印度政府正努力出售公共部门银行的不良资产,并剥离政府在国有企业中的持股。

“We have to get our confidence back because we got ourselves into this ditch. We have to jump out of it.” –Alok Kshirsagar

“我们必须找回信心,因为我们让自己陷入了这条沟里。我们必须跳出来。” —— 阿洛克·克舍萨加尔

India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently claimed that the economy is returning to a sound footing, with “seven key green shoots” that are clearly visible, including foreign direct investment and foreign portfolio investment trends, industrial production and the purchasing managers’ index. A day later, two indicators dampened that enthusiasm: Retail prices rose to 7.6% in January, rising to its highest since 2014, and industrial output shrank by 0.3% in December 2019.

印度财政部长尼尔马拉·西塔拉曼最近宣称,印度经济正在恢复健康的基础,“七个关键萌芽”清晰可见,包括外国直接投资和外国投资组合趋势、工业生产和采购经理指数。但一天后,两个指标给这种热情泼了冷水:一月份的零售价格上升到7.6%,达到2014年以来的最高水平,工业产出在2019年12月下降了0.3% 。

Growing Optimism?

越来越乐观?

Encouraging signs are visible are visible at toll plazas and tax collections that reflect activity in the informal and formal sectors, respectively, said Shailesh Pathak, CEO of L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Ltd. (L&T IDPL). He noted that GST (goods and services tax) collections in November 2019 were up 6% and crossed Rs. 103,000-crore ($14.4 billion), reversing two quarters of negative growth, according to government data. They have since crossed Rs. 110,000 crore ($15.4 billion) as of January 2020, according to government data. “The true number that matters for the formal economy is GST collections,” he said. “Numbers don’t have ideology.”

L&T基础设施发展项目有限公司,首席执行官沙伊莱什·帕沙克表示,在收费站和税收处,可以看到令人鼓舞的迹象,这些迹象分别反映了非正规部门和正规部门的活动。他指出,根据政府数据,2019年11月商品及服务税的征收上升了6% ,超过了10.3万亿卢比(144亿美元) ,扭转了两个季度的负增长。 根据政府数据,截至2020年1月,这一数字已经超过11万亿卢比(约合154亿美元)。“对于正规经济来说,真正重要的数字是商品及服务税的征收,”他说“数字没有意识形态。”

Toll plazas offer a sense of the informal economy, noted Pathak, whose company operates 33 toll plazas across the country. “From the end of October onwards, the traffic numbers reveal that the worst is behind us,” he said. He noted that the formal corporate sector accounts for barely 14% of the Indian economy, and that most of India’s economic activity happens in the informal sector.

帕沙克说,收费站给人一种非正规经济的感觉,公司在全国经营着33个收费站。“从10月底开始,交通数据显示,最糟糕的时期已经过去了”正规企业部门仅占印度经济的14% ,而印度的大部分经济活动发生在非正规部门。

Across its toll plazas, L&T IDPL collects about a million dollars each day, Pathak noted. Of that, digital toll collections have grown from 2% in November 2016 to 64% as of early January 2020, he said. “This is not counted in GDP, but it has removed queues from toll plazas in our projects. There are 540 toll plazas in the country. Can you estimate the savings in those toll plaza queues in diesel, congestion and the waste of time?”

通过收费站,L&T公司每天收取大约一百万美元。 其中,数字收费收入从2016年11月的2% 增长到2020年1月初的64%,他说“这个数目没有计入GDP,但它让我们项目中的收费站消除了人群排队的现象。 这个国家有540个收费站。你能估算一下,从收费站排队等候的柴油车、交通拥堵和浪费时间中,所节省的钱吗? ”

More and more of the informal sector is finding its way into GDP calculations, thanks to simplified tax regimes and a push towards greater compliance. “For a long time, the business model for many of these informal businesses was tax evasion,” said Pathak. “That’s not a sustainable business model.”

越来越多的非正规部门正在设法进入国内生产总值的计算,这要归功于简化的税收制度和更严格的法规。帕沙克说: “很长一段时间以来,这些非正式企业的商业模式都是逃税。”“这不是一种可持续的商业模式。”

All that will doubtless boost India’s macroeconomic performance, said Pathak. “Whatever the GDP growth rate is next year, by 2024-2025, it will definitely be 300 basis points more than that,” he predicted. He noted that India overtook the U.K. economy in terms of GDP size last year, and said it would surpass Germany and Japan by 2029.

所有这些无疑都将提升印度的宏观经济表现。他预计:“无论明年的 GDP 增长率是多少,到2024-2025年,肯定会高出300个基点。”他指出,去年印度的 GDP 规模超过了英国,并表示到2029年将超过德国和日本。

Speeding up Growth

加速增长



Pathak said he thinks better days are ahead for India’s infrastructure sector also because the abuses of the public-private partnership (PPP) model in past years have declined and the government is coming down heavily on errant actors. In such PPPs, an infrastructure project would be gold-plated with inflated costs that banks would fund, enabling private sector participants to take out their equity even before commercialization, he explained. “Obviously, when you run a $1,000 infrastructure project at a capitalized value of $2,000, you are not going to make money,” he explained.

帕沙克解释说,他认为印度基础设施行业的前景将会越来越好,因为过去几年中,印度公营部门与私营部门合作模式的滥用已经有所减少,而且政府正在严厉惩罚那些不守规矩的人。在这种公私合作关系中,基础设施项目将会被银行资助的夸大成本镀金,使私营部门参与者甚至在商业化之前就可以取出他们的股份。“很明显,当你以2000美元的资本价值运营一个1000美元的基础设施项目时,你不会赚钱,”他解释说。

However, if after completion, the project does generate positive cash flows and makes profits, the private sector partners would stick with it, he noted. “If it doesn’t [become profitable, the private sector partners] walk away. The banks carry the can.” Many of those PPP excesses occurred between 2006 and 2012, saddling public sector banks with nonperforming assets that are hobbling them till date, Pathak said. Since the government is reluctant to let public sector banks go under, it recapitalizes them with taxpayer money, he noted. “That is not a sustainable business model.” Bose expected the PPP concept to “re-emerge in a different way, with all the lessons that we have learnt from the previous decade.”

然而,如果项目完成后,确实产生了正向的现金流和利润,私营部门的合作者将会坚持下去。“如果不能实现盈利,私营部门合作者就会离开。银行承担了一切。” 帕沙克说,许多过度的公私合作发生在2006年至2012年之间,使公共部门银行背上了不良资产的包袱,这些不良资产一直拖累着它们。他指出,由于政府不愿意让公共部门的银行破产,所以政府用纳税人的钱对它们进行了资本重组。“这不是一种可持续的商业模式。” 博斯预计公私合作的概念将会“以一种不同的方式重新出现,我们从过去的十年中吸取了所有的教训。”

Pathak offered an alternative and sustainable way to operate infrastructure projects: Build them using government money, and once it’s a cash flow yielding asset, hand them over to the private sector to operate them. Mumbai and New Delhi airports are prime examples of private sector companies taking over operations after they were built with public funds, and they also make way for construction of additional terminals, he noted.

帕沙克提供了一种可持续的基础设施运营方式:用政府资金建造基础设施项目,一旦它成为能产生现金流的资产,就把它们交给私营部门来运营。他指出,孟买和新德里机场,就是私营企业在用公共资金建造后接管业务的典型例子,它们还为新航站楼的建设让路。

Butterflies and Caterpillars

蝴蝶和毛毛虫

Under-construction, public funded infrastructure projects are “caterpillars” and those handed over to the private sector for operations are “butterflies,” said Pathak. “Caterpillars are ugly to look at and full of risk. Butterflies are lovely, cash flow yielding assets for the next 30 years.” The upshot of that, according to him, is that “butterflies” will attract international funding because they have secure cash flows in sight, while “caterpillars” will find it hard to raise such capital. A second terminal at Mumbai’s international airport is a “butterfly”, since it is built by private sector partner GVK Power and Infrastructure, but the same company’s winning bid to build a greenfield airport in Navi Mumbai will find it challenging to attract international capital, he added.

在建的公共基础设施项目是“毛毛虫”,而那些移交给私营部门运营的项目是“蝴蝶”,帕沙克说。“毛毛虫看起来很丑,而且充满了危险。而蝴蝶可爱,能在未来30年产生现金流。”他表示,这样做的结果是,“蝴蝶”将吸引国际资金,因为它们有可观的现金流,而“毛毛虫”很难筹集到这样的资金。他补充称,孟买国际机场的第二个航站楼是一只“蝴蝶”,因为它是由私营部门合作者GVK电力基础设施公司建造的,但这一家公司虽然在新孟买新建机场的竞标中获胜,将会发现很难吸引国际资本。

Butterflies are clearly in demand, as recent deals show. Last October, NIIF and its partners Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Canada’s PSP Investments signed a deal to acquire an equity stake of 26.3% each in the GVK group’s holding company that owns Mumbai international airport, for a total value of $1 billion. Pathak revealed that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Canada’s largest pension fund, which last September bought a 51% controlling stake in L&T Infrastructure Development Projects, is “very clearly looking at butterflies” for its India investments.

正如最近的交易显示的那样,蝴蝶显然很受欢迎。去年10月,NIIF 及其合作伙伴阿布扎比投资局和加拿大 PSP 投资公司签署了一项协议,以10亿美元的总价值收购 GVK 集团控股公司26.3% 的股份。帕沙克透露,加拿大最大的养老基金——加拿大养老金计划投资委员会对在印度的投资“非常清晰地看到蝴蝶”。去年9月,加拿大养老金计划投资委员会购买了 L&t 基础设施开发项目51%的控股权。

He said the government could open similar “butterfly” opportunities for investors in assets with existing cash flows such as railway stations. “If you have a footfall of 300,000 in a railway station, of course there is money to be made. The private sector would be happy to take it over.” On that note, he pointed out that a competition is underway between many Indian cities to build their own metros, and that in the next 10 years, at least 25 Indian cities will have state-of-the art metro systems.

他表示,政府可能会为火车站等现有现金流资产的投资者开辟类似的“蝴蝶”机会。“如果火车站的客流量达到30万人,当然就能赚钱。私营部门将乐于接手。”在这方面,他指出,印度许多城市正在进行建设自己地铁的竞争,在未来10年内,至少25个印度城市将拥有最先进的地铁系统。

As it happens, greenfield “caterpillar” projects are also attracting international investors. The NIIF combine with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Canada’s PSP Investments (a pension investments manager) will also get the rights to build the Navi Mumbai airport. NIIF’s other partner, Zurich Airport International AG of Switzerland, recently won the concession to build a second airport at Jewar near New Delhi. The Zurich Airport Group had in 2016 sold its stake in Bengaluru’s international airport to Fairfax Group of Canada. “We are actually able to get really serious, high-quality capital into greenfield projects,” said Bose. “This is a turning point in the infrastructure development picture in India.”

碰巧的是,一些“毛毛虫”绿地项目也在吸引国际投资者。 NIIF与阿布扎比投资局和加拿大的 PSP 投资公司(一家养老金投资公司)也将获得建设新孟买机场的权利。NIIF的另一个合作伙伴——瑞士苏黎世国际机场股份有限公司最近赢得了在新德里附近的杰沃尔建设第二个机场的特许权。苏黎世机场集团曾在2016年将其在班加罗尔国际机场的股份出售给加拿大费尔法克斯集团。“我们实际上能够把真正认真的,高质量的资本投入到绿地项目,”博斯说“这是印度基础设施发展的一个转折点。”

Investing in Infrastructure

投资基础设施

Kshirsagar pointed to a few aspects that make India’s infrastructure projects more attractive to international investors than they were in the past. First, the presence of “large, professionally -run companies” such as L&T Infrastructure Development Projects and the emergence of NIIF as major funding platform is fundamentally changing the infrastructure market. Increasing transparency in governance and the use of auctions to allocate public resources have made it easier to attract international equity capital, he said. “As a fundamental premise of resource allocation, a huge change as occurred in the last five or six years [with auctions] as a way of allocating resources. When you look back 20 years from now, it will be a very important development to encourage more professional capital to avoid the gold-plating [of projects] and the tycoons’ corruption and political corruption.”

帕沙克指出,与过去相比,印度基础设施项目有一些方面对国际投资者更具吸引力。首先,L&T基础设施发展项目等“大型专业运营公司”的存在,以及 NIIF 作为主要融资平台的出现,正在从根本上改变基础设施市场。 他表示,治理方面的透明度不断提高,以及利用拍卖来分配公共资源,使得吸引国际股本更加容易。“作为资源配置的基本前提,过去5、6年拍卖作为一种资源配置方式所发生了巨大变化。20年后,当你回顾今天时,鼓励更多的专业资本,以避免项目被镀金、企业大亨的腐败和政治腐败,这将是一个非常重要的进展。”



Another risk for investors in infrastructure projects relates to the enforcement of contracts, Pathak said. If contracts cannot be enforced, they will lead to time and cost overruns in projects, he cautioned. “In Singapore, if I give a check and it bounces, I go to jail. In India if my check bounces, it is the start of negotiations because nobody wants to go to court.” According to Bose, growing aspirations among Indian citizens for development, and the unrelenting pace of urbanization will drive a “bottom-up” push for infrastructure projects.

帕沙克说,基础设施项目投资者面临的另一个风险与合同的执行有关。他警告说,如果合同不能被执行,将导致项目的时间和成本超支。“在新加坡,如果我开了一张支票,被拒付的话,我就会进监狱。在印度,如果我的支票被拒付,那就是谈判的开始,因为没有人愿意上法庭。” 根据博斯的说法,印度公民对发展的渴望越来越强烈,城市化的步伐不断加快,这将推动基础设施项目“自下而上”的发展。

Kshirsagar reiterated that GDP growth numbers are irrelevant, in response to a member of the audience who pointed to a Harvard research paper last year by India’s former chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian. In that paper, Subramanian contended that between 2014 and 2018, India’s GDP had been overstated by 2.5 percentage points. Against official estimates of 7%, India’s GDP growth was no more than 4.5%, he had argued.

克什萨加尔重申,国内生产总值的增长数字无关紧要,这是对一位听众的提问做出的回答。这位听众引用了印度前首席经济顾问阿文德·萨勃拉曼尼亚去年在哈佛发表了一篇研究。 萨勃拉曼尼亚在那篇论文中认为,从2014年到2018年,印度的 GDP 被高估了2.5个百分点。他认为,与官方预估的 7% 相比,印度的 GDP 增长不超过4.5% 。

“What is powerful about Arvind’s paper is it looks at the underlying drivers of consumption and investment. And it did show that they were not growing,” Kshirsagar said. But since then, corrective mechanisms have been put in place such as with auctions of public resources, more transparent contract allocation and greater accountability, he added.

阿文德那篇论文的强大之处在于,它着眼于消费和投资的根本驱动因素。 这的确表明它们没有在增长,”克什萨加尔补充说,自那以后,建立了纠正机制,比如公共资源的拍卖、更透明的合同分配以及更大的问责制。

Bose had advice for those about to start their careers or those who are in the early stages of their careers: “Read what the economists say but focus on what investors are doing. The largest and savviest investors in the world are allocating more and more of their capital to one, infrastructure, and two, to India. Forty percent of the largest investors in the world are saying that their top allocation of exposure is going to be for the infrastructure sector, and almost all the large institutional investors who operate outside the OECD countries have India as one of the top destinations of capital.”

对于那些即将开始职业生涯的人或者那些处于职业生涯早期的人,博斯给出了一些建议:“读读经济学家是怎么说的,但要关注投资者在做什么。全球最大、最精明的投资者正将越来越多的资本配置到印度的基础设施项目上。 全球40%的最大投资者表示,他们的最大投资份额将用于基础设施领域,而且几乎所有在经合组织成员国之外运营的大型机构投资者,都将印度视为首选的资本目的地之一。”