Revival of irrigation sector is beneficial for construction companies, says ICRA

New Delhi [India], Mar. 20 : According to credit-rating agency ICRA, the Government has helped construction companies improve their order book positions by investing in urban infrastructure segments.

The construction sector gross value added (GVA) witnessed a YoY growth of 2.7 percent during Q3 FY2017 which is similar to the modest growth witnessed in the past quarters.

The growth in the construction GVA despite the disruption in the execution caused by the demonetisation reflects the resilience of the organised construction sector.

Further, Budget 2017-18 has continued its thrust on infrastructure with an increase in allocation towards the infrastructure sector, and focus on major schemes towards infrastructure development.

The Budget has also set higher execution targets for the major infrastructure segments. "ICRA's sample of construction companies witnessed an improvement in order inflows with a major push coming from segments like roads, metro rail, and urban infrastructure.

However, any significant improvement in the credit metrics of construction companies will take time and will be contingent on an improvement in the working capital cycle and in the pace of execution, besides their ability to deleverage by raising long-term funds through stake sale or equity placements," said K.

Ravichandran, Senior Vice-President and Group-Head, Corporate Ratings, ICRA. The irrigation sector has witnessed good traction over the last one year and is likely to see improved execution with increased funding support from the State and the Central Governments budgetary allocation and the Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) of NABARD, the corpus of which was increased to Rs.

40,000 crore in the Union Budget 2017-18. The focus is currently on the 99 projects selected under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) which are targeted for completion in stages by Dec-2019.

Further, states like Telangana have significantly increased allocation towards the irrigation sector to fast track the development of irrigation projects.

Some very large irrigation projects such as Polavaram, Pranahitha and Kaleshwaram are under execution in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh which have added to the order inflow for construction companies operating in this space.

The pace of recovery in the overall construction sector is likely to be modest and will be linked to the on the ground impact of the policy measures including the release of 75 percent arbitral award as well as the availability of funds for project development.

In the short term, demonetisation would have a negative impact on construction activities (as indicated by the contraction in cement production by 8.7 percent in Dec-2016 and 13.3 percent in Jan-2017); however, the impact is expected to subside and the situation is expected to normalise from Q1-FY2018 onwards.

On the positive side, with the Government's emphasis on infrastructure projects, public sector investments are expected to increase in the medium to long term - though this will be constrained by fiscal deficit targets and other increased expenditures on account of pay revisions, etc.

Hence, the revival of public private partnership is crucial for improving the pace of infrastructure development.

Source: ANI