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Railways to seek private investment in some areas to improve efficiency: Piyush Goyal

The railways, in order to become one of the world’s best, has a huge investment requirement, Goyal said.

Updated: Jul 06, 2019, 08.22 PM IST
Goyal detailed how the government will ease norms to attract foreign investment.
Indian Railways will open up certain areas to private investment to improve efficiency and meet passenger expectations, said Piyush Goyal, minister for railways, and commerce and industry. In an interview with Nishtha Saluja and Kirtika Suneja, Goyal also detailed how the government will ease norms to attract foreign investment. Edited Excerpts:

Public Private Partnership in railways has been one of the highlights this year. What are your plans?
The railways, in order to become one of the world’s best, has a huge investment requirement. The finance minister gave a rough indication that Rs 50 lakh crore will be required over the next 10-12 years. The government will not be able to allocate so much. Given the urgency to add infrastructure and services, we should open up certain areas where there is potential for private investment, just like how we opened up in the roads sector, power sector...

These would be passenger trains, rolling stock manufacturing…
It’s a work in process. We will see the areas of opportunity, those which need funding, where we can improve efficiency and bring in modern technology while keeping it a railway owned entity.

Do you anticipate some resistance from unions?
I don’t think so. All of this will help the workmen.

Will the cost of travel by rail increase with the private sector coming in?
It is the customer’s choice. We will not force anybody into using the private sector services, if at all they are brought in, in specific areas.

What kind of relaxations will the 30% sourcing norm for single brand retail trade entail?
We are considering various aspects, but by restricting only domestic sales while calculating the 30% local procurement we don’t incentivise large capacities. We are forcing people to think small. So, within the five-year period when, out of their sales in India 30% has to be sourced locally, why not also allow them to export out of that 30%. That way it is a double benefit for India. It helps us produce more and also earn foreign exchange.

Budget says startups’ angel tax issues will be resolved…
We are automating the system, removing the human interface and trusting startup ecosystem. Angel tax was never a tax meant for startups. After today’s announcement, honest taxpayers get relief.

When are you meeting the USTR? Will the trade deal with the US be on the lines of a free trade agreement?
We are yet to finalise the details of the meeting, and as for the deal, I am open to all ideas.

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