Indian companies welcome Railway Budget 2008-09

Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 08:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: Leaders of Indian industry Tuesday hailed Railway Minister Lalu Prasad's fifth consecutive railway budget as forward looking and people-friendly, even as they expressed concern at some issues.

"The forward-looking Railway Budget 2008 will create a win-win situation for all - the railways, the wagon manufacturers, heavy industries and the common man," said Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"With the past experience of the railways, clearly demonstrating that pragmatic policies and aggressive planning can give substantial benefits to the railways, its consumers and the national economy, the industry expects a sustained proactive and still more ambitious approach from the railways towards growth," the industry body said.

Another leading Indian business chamber, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) said the budget was anti-inflationary.

It also welcomed the provision of investing 1 trillion ($25 billion) for public-private-partnership (PPP) to upgrade and modernise the Indian Railways.

"The railway minister has introduced several new procedures which will hopefully facilitate private sector participation in the railways, particularly in the design and development of newer models and types of wagons," Ficci said.

"Lalu Prasad's commitment to generate 1 lakh crore (1 trillion) additional investments in next five years through PPP for railways is especially praiseworthy," said Venugopal N. Dhoot, president, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

Assocham also welcomed the five percent reduction in freight rates for petrol and diesel and 14 percent reduction in freight rate of fly ash.

According to the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), the construction of the dedicated East-West freight corridor would pave the way for smoother and greater trade.

"Construction of the East-West corridor with finalisation of Ludhiana-Kolkata and Delhi-JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust) Corridors is expected to avoid congestion and increase efficiency in delivery," FIEO President Ganesh Kumar Gupta said.

However, PHD Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (PHDCCI) said: "There is need to ensure that the dedicated freight corridors are completed on time but proper milestones for achieving the targets on time are missing in the budget."

"With a moderate slowdown in economic growth and inflation expected to rise further, especially in essential items and the recent petroleum price hike, it would have been prudent if freight tariff had been reduced across the board," it added.
Source: IANS
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