Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday presented the Union Budget for 2023-24 (Apr-Mar) in the Lok Sabha. Team FPJ spoke to industry experts from various fields. To gauge the reaction of middle class, we spoke with Transport expert Muhammad Afzal. Here's what he had to say.
As far as the transport sector is concerned, signalling systems for synchronising signals, electrification of lines, upgradation of old tracks and making new tracks, and expansion of coach and freight corridors to benefit companies would be the focal points. A Lot has been done with reference to PMAY-Urban, Metro Rail and Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS). However, it is inadequate, with a lot more expected and needing to be done. If we talk about connectivity and economics, Metro lines have proven to be a boon in the city. Transportation in Mumbai and other metropolitan cities needs faster and quick policy-making decisions for faster implementation, whether related to rail, road or air transport.
In comparison to a per pre-poll budget analysis, today's budget increase of 33% capex is significantly good for infrastructure, mainly roads, railways and the national infrastructure pipeline. As per statistics, between FY20 and FY25, the government will spend Rs102 lakh crore on infrastructure in comparison to the period between FY08 and FY17 when just Rs60 lakh crore.
India is the fourth largest rail network operator after the USA, Russia and China, with 70% of revenue generated from freight and 20% generated from passengers, while 5% is generated from sundries. The road network has grown by 12.5% and rail network has grown by 21%. The tariff of freight for railway transport is much less and lower than for road transport. Therefore it should be preferred by companies. However, roads seem like a better option due to better transit time, no issues with wagon supply and no complicated rules, procedures or SOPs to be followed. As a result, priority is given to passenger trains.
In the previous budget decision, 100 PM Gati Shakti Cargo Terminals were to be established in three years, but only 15 terminals have been established so far. The railway capex for FY22 was Rs1,90,267 lakh crore, which now stands increased to Rs2,45,800 lakh crore. The railway capex in 2014 was just Rs53,989 lakh crore, indicating a substantial rise.
Today's budget spoke about auto export. I feel e-charging infrastructure policy incentives need to be increased in areas of raw material and taxation. Custom duties on auto export components, especially for EVs, are the need of the hour.
Another area of concern is the replacement and scrapping of 10-15-year-old vehicles which fails to address concerns of the common man. Those who fall in the low-income group or jobless people whose cars are in fit condition should be allowed to use such vehicles.
This budget touched up on road infrastructure, but we still need to see what is behind the curtains, check the pros and cons, and minutely analyse the current budget on the subject.
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