Letters to the editor
Road to privatisation
Apropos of the edit “Bullet train to progress” (FE, December 10), like the Mumbai Metro, the bullet train, too, would need to be run by private enterprise or its management hived off to an empowered authority with private representation. Under no circumstances should it be government-owned. Railways, which is spending 97.8 paise to earn a rupee, and is set to spend 110 paise post the pay panel largesse, should provide the example why. Air India has a cumulative loss of R31,000 crore and, for FY ‘15, the loss is estimated at R4,346 crore, as its R40,000 crore borrowings eat up the bulk of its revenue. Private airlines, in comparison, are better off. It took an eon for the government to desist from running hotels and bakeries. In heavy industries, but for a precious few, almost all have turned to rust. The government, having seeded industrial growth at the turn of Independence, must learn to withdraw in time for more efficient private enterprise to bear the onus. Thatcher privatised British Rail in 1993, perhaps with far too much of elan, and was met with rightful flak. We should be more circumspect in our approach to the larger spectrum of public involvement in industries per se, wiser with lessons from history. Whether the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train would be an attractive proposition for private investment could be a pertinent issue.
As a layman, I fail to understand why our country’s financial planners should get worried at the continuous fall in the global crude oil prices in the international market. As is well known, over 75% of our foreign exchange reserves is consumed in importing the hydrocarbon derivatives from abroad. As such, any sharp downward trend, whether in the official Opec benchmark price, or in the spot markets, creates a positive impact for our precious forex kitty. Losses to the state enterprises notwithstanding, this scenario is certainly a welcome sign from the point of view of our not-so-strong economy.
Arun Malankar, Mumbai
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