Millennium Post

Prabhu's maiden Railway Budget gets thumbs up from India Inc

Sunil Kant Munjal, Hero MotorCorp Joint MD and former CII president, said, "By initiating measures to improve the operational efficiency of Railways and introducing innovative financial mechanisms such as engagement of pension funds and other long-term debt instruments, the Budget has sought to improve its competitiveness."

Similarly, moves at resource mobilisation by strengthening the PPP model and also through new technologies, will go a long way to turnaround rail operations, he said.

"These measures will lead to greater efficiency and result in the Railways becoming the preferred mode of transport for passengers as well as goods," Munjal said.

Godrej Group Chairman Adi Godrej said Railway Minister Surech Prabhu has introduced a number of "innovative" steps to increase revenue.

"The roadmap laid for attracting private investment through tapping low-cost long-term funds from insurance and pension funds, multilateral and bilateral agencies, forming JVs with IRFC or existing NBFC of a PSU, creating a holding company to raise long-term debt etc will go a long way in boosting the cash-strapped sector and facilitate completion of many crucial rail projects," Godrej said.

L&T Finance Holding Chairman Y M Deosthalee described the Budget as "a vision statement accompanied by a decisive roadmap to make Railways a viable transportation model by transforming it from being cost-centre to a profit centre.This is evident in budgeting to achieve a lower operating ratio of 88.5 per cent and higher levels of efficiencies."

On the Minster's plan to augment funds from the market, Deosthalee said the proposal to introduce structural and systemic reforms to create infrastructure through market borrowing is a welcome step. So is the move to bring in public private participation to generate sustainable revenue.

The sharp 52 per cent increase in planned expenditure to Rs 1 trillion for FY16 provides the much-needed spending push, he noted.

Ajay Shriram of Shriram Group and CII President said Prabhu has unveiled a comprehensive plan for modernisation of the Railways.

"The proposed Rs 8.5 trillion capex over the next five years would result in a truly modern rail system which would significantly propel economic growth," he said.

Rail Minister has 'derailed' the budget: Cong

Congress today came down heavily on the Rail budget and alleged that the Railway Minister has not only "derailed" it but has "pulled a fast one" on the people by failing to lower fares despite downturn in global crude prices.

"A trained Chartered Accountant has derailed the budget," said party spokesman Rajiv Gowda, accusing Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu of jugglery, fudging the numbers and selling dreams without a concrete roadmap.

Dubbing the exercise as "extremely disappointing", he said there has been "zero new trains" and the budget showed that the 'heart" of the NDA government is with the elite and not with the poor.

The Rail budget has shown that the government only cares for the rich and not for the millions of poor thirsty of connectivity, he added.

Taking a dig at Prabhu, Gowda said the Railway Minister was "poached" by the Prime Minister from Shiv Sena, but has failed to demonstrate how capable he was.

Railway Minister should have brought down the freight rates to give a stimulus to the economy, but has instead raised them, he said.

"The Railway Minister has shown the extraordinary ability of juggling the numbers. We see a dream budget of a dreamer who has made all kind of promises without a concrete plan," he said wondering where was the 'bullet train' promised by Narendra Modi.

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