NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday began a fresh exercise to assess the capital expenditure plans of government departments and public sector entities during the current financial year to ensure that they use up their annual allocation, while asking them to keep a robust pipeline ready for the next year too. On Monday, Sitharaman met officials from the civil aviation ministry and the department of telecommunication (DoT), where she reiterated that infrastructure projects are a priority for the government and necessary funds will be made available for capex. The government wants to keep close tabs on infrastructure spending, which includes not just the Centre’s budgetary expenditure on the sector, but also those by the states and the private sector. In the Budget, the Centre had increased capex by 35% to Rs 5.5 lakh crore during the current fiscal year as part of efforts to revive demand across core industries such as cement and steel and boost economic activity. Latest numbers released by the Controller General of Accounts showed that up to August, capex had gone up 41% to top Rs 1.7 lakh crore, which is almost a third of the full year target. A higher capex was part of a strategy to rev up the economy, hit hard by pandemic, which resulted in private sector going slow on fresh investments due to lower demand. “During the meeting, capex status of Q1 and Q2, front-loading of capex, estimated targets of capital spending by ministries and their central public sector enterprises in the upcoming quarters of current financial year, expenditure incurred for implementation of National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) projects, estimation of funds to be raised by asset monetisation, projects undertaken through PPP and Convergence under National Master Plan (Gati Shakti) were discussed,” an official statement said. The finance minister is due to meet other departments and ministries in the coming days, an official said, adding that this is a follow-up to earlier discussions undertaken by Sitharaman.