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Railway Budget
Rail Budget 2014-2015: Economists hail government's initiatives
Narendra Modi-led government presented its first rail budget for the fiscal year 2014-2015 yesterday. The budget opened the door of railways for private sector in certain services like food, station maintenance, cleanliness etc. The rail minister Sadanand Gowda said that the government would also discuss the possibilities introducing FDI in the railways.

Political parties, other than BJP and NDA allies, called it a budget toward privatisation of railways. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi termed the rail budget as an impractical budget. However, contrary to what politicos are saying economists accepted this as a noble step by the government, which in long term would be helpful in improving the railways infrastructure.

Rajiv Kumar, an economist and Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, said, "It is a forward looking budget with focus on Railways modernization and mobilizing financial resources from the private sector for infrastructure development. Therefore, its a good budget and a promising budget. And will hopefully set the railways on a higher growth statistics."

DH Pai Panandiker, an economist with a think-tank RPG Foundation, said, "I think its a good budget and business friendly. As the minister says, that he is loosing 23 paise per passenger and no business can run on the basis of losses. Building new lines are very uneconomic, because new lines take a lot of time to give result and become profitable. So he has not put any emphasis on new lines. He has on the contrary made the present system more efficient. He has introduced fast trains and has talked about introducing privatization into Railways. It is a very practical and commercial decision. They are trying to improve and modernise the railways."

SP Sharma, Chief Economist at the industry body, PHD Chamber of Commerce and industry, India) said, "The Railway Budget is growth oriented and employment inducing and I believe in long run it will help the economy to rejuvenate from the current crisis and will foster inclusive growth in the coming times. Privatization policy is also lucrative and are planning some PPP model in Railway sector and also looking for FDI policy investment, so its going to help the railway infrastructure which is very poor. So in the coming times, if it is materialized and investments are coming in then PPP is lucrative. Then there's no doubt there would be growth in the Railway sector."

BB Bhattacharya, ex-Vice Chancellor, JNU and an eminent economist, said, "The (rail) minister brought a big reform in the railways budget but ended up in producing the same stereotype one. And privatization has been talked in last several railways budgets. The only new thing they have talked about this time is about FDI. But these are all intentions. And I question why should FDI come in railways, as it is a very profit making organization."

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