Terming the budget as anti-inflationary and progressive, the industry gave a thumbs-up to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad who, it felt, was on the right track by focusing on modernisation and expansion to transform the world's second largest transportation network into a modern and cost-efficient entity.
Welcoming the lowering of freight rates on petrol and diesel cargoes, industry chamber Confederation of Indian Industry said, "This reduction will help offset to some extent the impact of the hike in fuel prices".
However, oil companies are unlikely to pass on the benefits to the consumers as the gain on account of five per cent reduction in freight charges works out to a measly Rs 50 crore a year.
FICCI Chief Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the announcement to cut rates by five per cent "is a good and strong anti-inflationary measure". It also welcomed the Minister's proposal for mobilising Rs one lakh crore for improving the network through public-private partnership mode, stating that this would generate opportunities for India's private sector.
Assocham President Venugopal Dhoot said such measures would also help the Railways attract more traffic. The chamber, however, said some freight relaxations should have been extended to steel and cement industry as well.