New Delhi, Feb 24 (UNI) Terming today's budget unveiled by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad as a ''surrender before Commercial Roadways'', the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT) today said the Budget had taken a populist route by refusing to make appropriate increment in freight rates and passenger fares for the third successive year.
''The Railways should have increased their freight rates by five to ten per cent for different items / commodities and ploughed back the revenue generation for its long term growth and development in improving its obsolete assets. The trade and commerce of the country is ready to give reasonable hike in freight rates as can be seen from the upward movement of truck rentals and retail parcel rates by movement of cargo through roadways. The railways, as a largest transport company has, once again, wasted the opportunity to rationalize its freight structure to the benefit of its operations rather than playing to the populism attached to Government Departments,''the IFTRT said in a statement.
In support of its contention that the trade and commerce of the country was ready for a reasonable hike in freight rates, the IFTRT said,''the economy has been growing over six to seven per cent rate for last three years and there has been substantial increase in truck rentals by 30 per cent - 35 per cent and retail parcel rates by 40 per cent - 45 per cent in the last two years due to steep rise in diesel price, vehicle prices, tyre prices, road taxes, highway tolls and motor insurance. The economy has been able to absorb major hike in truck rentals and still the roadways has maintained its 75 per cent share in the national cargo. Thus there was enough cushion for Railway Minister to take benefit of the opportunity to increase the rentals by minimum of 5 per cent to ten per cent rather than tamely surrendering to the artificial fear psychosis built towards competition from Roadways.'' MORE UNI AR RA KN2021