First Meeting of Advisory Board for Railway Financial matters held; Minister meets Board, Bankers on investment

New Delhi: Chairing the first meeting of the newly-constituted Advisory Board on Financial Matters, Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu on Monday drew the attention to the huge investment requirement in Railways and the various sources and structures under consideration to mobilize the required resources. He discussed with leading bankers ways in which resources could be mobilised for railways. The minister briefed leading bankers on the huge investment requirement of the Railways. During the discussions several suggestions were made for attracting domestic and international funds, steps required to give comfort to investors/lenders and to ensure sustainability of the funding models.

Prabhu also highlighted the complex task of various projects with discrepancies in their returns. Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha was also present during the discussion. The Railway Minister in his Railway Budget had announced setting up of an Advisory Board dealing financial aspects. The Board consisting of top names of the financial world is expected to guide and advise on matters of sourcing investments into Railway infrastructure development. A Financial Services Cell has also been created in the Ministry to focus on this aspect.

The members of the Advisory Committee are Chairman ICICI Bank KV Kamath, SBI Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, Executive Chairman of IDFC Rajiv Lall and Founder of The Quintillion Media Pvt. Ltd Raghav Bahal. Railway Board Chairman AK Mital and members of the Railway Board, other senior officers of the Ministry and Managing Director, IRFC too attended the meeting.

“Several suggestions were made by members of the advisory board for attracting domestic and international funds, besides steps needed to be taken up to give comfort to investors or lenders and to ensure sustainability of the funding models,” said the official.

Prabhu in his Rail Budget speech had announced an investment of Rs.8.5 lakh crore in Railways in the next five years. In this regard the Ministry has already signed a MoU with LIC of India for a funding assistance of Rs.1,50,000 crore. The Annual Plan size for 2015-16 was also doubled to cross Rs.1 lakh figure in 2015-16.

The advisory board was proposed by Mr Suresh Prabhu in the Parliament.