Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Good news aplenty, just don’t talk of inflation

New Delhi, February 27 : For anyone wanting to gauge the pulse of the Government today, Economic Survey 2006-07 would be a useful tool. All policy-defining keywords --- inflation, growth, special economic zones (SEZs), infrastructure and even pension reforms --- have been discussed, keeping the governing coalition’s priorities and achievements in mind. In short, this ‘economic’ survey has far more ‘political’ undertones than many in the past.

Story in The Indian Express, February 28, 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Profit his engine, Lalu cuts fares, keeps key reforms still reserved

New Delhi, February 26 : Sharp in short-term money making, strong in medium-term strategy, but weak in long-term vision, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav’s fourth Railway Budget 2007-08 chugs on the tracks he charted four years ago. It transports record-breaking profits and freight carriage; most importantly, it delivers the lowest-ever operating ratio. Lalu’s budget yearned for attention in the Lok Sabha — but he had to yell his way.
“Rs 20,000 crore,” he shouted. “We have made a record profit of Rs 20,000 crore,” as if this feat would silence an Opposition that had decided to let the Bofors gun drown his Budget. And if the Opposition didn’t dither, Lalu, the performer, didn’t yield an inch of the centrestage.

Story in The Indian Express, February 27, 2007

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Infrastructure’s a 3-letter word

This month will see three important policy decisions being taken. As the Budget session approaches, the troika of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel could help pave the way to keep the India growth story on track. The keyword for this troika: infrastructure. The key expression of this keyword: public private partnerships (PPP).

The numbers are huge — $320 billion to be invested in India’s infrastructure, spread out over the next five years if we are to sustain the 9-10 per cent growth rate, says Chidambaram. That’s about Rs 14,08,960 crore, or 40 per cent of India’s GDP. Not an amount the Government can organise through taxes (public outcry) or borrowings (already standing at Rs 20,59,234 crore). Private capital is needed for which four big constraints have to be resolved: creation of bankable projects, introducing new financial instruments, regulatory framework for PPPs, development of managerial skill. The budget will reveal much on this front.

Opinion in The Indian Express, February 07, 2007