New Delhi, Feb 26:
India Inc. Thursday welcomed the maiden budget of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu calling it comprehensive and reform-oriented.
“This is a ‘caring budget’. This cares for the customer. This cares for the environment. This cares for the stakeholders and, of course, this cares about the economy,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Banerjee said the budget had a business-like approach to decision-making especially as it outlined four major goals namely improving customer experience, ensuring safety, effecting capacity expansion and making railways financially sustainable.
“The engagement of states in taking the Indian rail forward is a laudable suggestion which is in line with the prime minister’s approach of cooperative federalism,” added Banerjee.
Another industry body the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) also welcomed Prabhu’s maiden budget by describing it as forward-looking, pragmatic and strategy-oriented with an innovative approach.
“It is encouraging to see that the rail budget has envisaged an investment of Rs.8.5 lakh crore in the next five years that would be mobilised from sources such as multilateral development banks and pension funds,” FICCI’s secretary general A. Didar Singh said.
“Besides putting thrust on better passenger amenities and safety, the budget has targeted operating ratio at 88.5 percent for 2015-16. Lower operating ratio would help in generating higher internal resources for meeting various requirements,” said the FICCI secretary general.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) called the railway budget a determined effort to ensure both the passengers and industrial consumers of better services with the help of technology.
“Initiatives like larger role of the private sector in station upgradation, rolling stock and bulk transportation would go a long way in making the railways efficient,” said Rana Kapoor, Assocham president.
According to Kapoor, the exponential increase in the plan size of over Rs.100,000 crore would lead to a positive impact on other related sectors of the railways.
“The budget shows that for the first time the government has started treating the railways as a commercial enterprise without using it as a political vehicle,” Kapoor added.
The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the 11 major thrust areas announced in the budget would facilitate overall development of the sector.
“No hike in railway passenger fares is good as the economy was facing severe inflation during the last many years and will be good respite to the common man,” said Alok B. Shriram, president of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Shriram said allocation for better passenger amenities indicated the government’s intention to erect state-of-the-art infrastructure and amenities to the passengers.
“The 77 new projects covering 9,400 kms of doubling, tripling and quadrupling works proposed will attract more investments in the sector, thereby pushing it to higher growth trajectory,” Shriram added.
In his maiden budget Prabhu proposed to correct the railway’s investment deficit position. He outlined a slew of initiatives for generating financial resources like tying up with pension funds and other debt-related instruments.
Prabhu also proposed various plans to increase investment, erect new rail infrastructure, ration energy consumption and spruce up passenger amenities. (IANS)