Mixed response to Railway Budget | SupportBiz

Policy Notes

Mixed response to Railway Budget

Industry leaders have presented varied views on the Railway Budget 2013-14. SupportBiz shares a few of them.

Dr. A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, said, “The key to moving forward on the growth path  is the execution of the projects announced by the Minister in his Railway Budget speech. This year’s Rail Budget reflects the difficult economic scenario, and contains several proposals which, if implemented, would set a growth multiplier in motion.”

Besides a number of new rail-based factories and workshops to be set up, construction contracts to cover upto 1,500 km on the two dedicated freight corridors are proposed to be awarded this year. "These are some positive announcements made by the Railway Minister, but their execution should be done quickly,” Dr.  Singh said.

 Welcoming  some positive developments  announced by the Union Minister, Dr. Singh stated, "It is commendable that a set of critical measures towards improving safety have been announced, including a corporate safety plan for 2014-2024, introduction of a train protection warning system on automatic signalling systems, introduction of self-propelled accident relief trains, and rehabilitation of 17 distressed bridges over the next one year.”

 The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) welcomed  the Railway Budget.  Calling the  railway budget a ‘balanced’ one,  Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, said, “The emphasis of the Railway Minister on financial viability and fiscal discipline of the railways is most reassuring and a welcome direction. Financial discipline, safety and passenger amenities are inherent to the health and condition of this mode of transport, which is availed by the common man, and the Minister has paid due attention to each.”

With fuel prices getting deregulated, linking of freight rates to increase in diesel prices is the correct direction to take, and the CII commends the government for taking this step. “Lower operational ratio announced by the Minister would help provide for the much-needed funds which can help modernization. The prioritization of 347 projects with assured funding is a very credible move. CII looks forward to a clear roadmap on PPP, for taking forward some of the more capital-intensive projects”, Mr Banerjee added.

M Rafeeque Ahmed, President, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), stated that an increase in freight rates upto 5% and the possibility of an imminent hike in freight due to an increase in fuel costs as per the dynamic freight policy announced would add  to the cost of inputs/business at a time when there is a general slowdown in the economy, with GDP levels plunging to a decade low of 5%. “This may also add to inflation, a prime concern for the government,” Rafeeque stated.

The FIEO chief stated that as far as trade is concerned, the CCEA approval earlier  in February 2013 on three investment proposals - including a doubling of the 247.75 km Palan-Samakhiali   Section in Gujarat, aimed to relieve bottlenecks in evacuation from the ports of Mundra and Kandla, enabling off-take from the northern hinterland - would be significant, provided they do  not suffer backlog, as has happened in similar doubling projects in the 11th plan.

Rafeeque also welcomed the proposal for new lines of up to 500 km, doubling of 750 km of lines, and gauge conversion of 450 km  targeted in 2013-14. He also added, “Some of the other progressive/forward-looking initiatives on the financial front include the raising of funds from the market to the tune of Rs. 1  lakh crore, a similar amount through PPP, and also, an additional Rs. 1 lakh  crore through internal measures, besides next-gen e-ticketing/wi-fi enabling/executive lounges, escalators and lifts at important stations.”