Railway Board Chairman Mr.Arunendra Kumar shares his views on FDI in railways and how to monetise assets. Below is the verbatim transcript of Arunendra Kumar in an interview; excerpts as below:
Q: What is your view on Private Sector investment in Railways?
A: Private sector investment – we are not new to that. We have to attract more customers and we have been receiving large number of enquiries. We had the first investors meet on December 5 this year. It will be followed by two more in January and February. So, interest is growing. They want to understand as to what all sectors they will find the returns to be forthcoming if they invest. We have educated them and we are willing to change whatever we have issued as sectoral guidelines so that it comes up to their business expectations.
Q: You have indentified high speed train corridor projects, you have indentified stations, you have indentified locomotive manufacturing projects. While we have been seeing all this, we do not have any sense of will FDI come in and if so by when will FDI come in, what are the issues that they are raising as far as having some kind of a clarity on bringing in FDI into these projects which railways has itself identified?
A: By and large they have reasonable clarity on their requirement part. What they are perhaps as we understand is trying to get into more of the legal requirements and the taxation requirements that come because we must be stable in that regime. The requirement of railways they understand it pretty well, the technological leap that we are looking forward to, the assured off take model that we have got also in some of the areas. As also the change that may come about lets say for a station if they invest or high speed corridor if they invest, how we are going to do. We have also clarified that if you are looking for some land acquisition we are very much there because Indian Railways Special Land Acquisition Act is very much comfortable as far as land acquisition is concerned because we are dispensed with those powers of social impact assessment and we can do this kind of facilitation which is required for such kind of projects.
Q: While for other manufacturing projects land is a sensitive issue you are telling us that as far as railway projects are concerned that won\\’t be an issue for prospective investors?
A: Yes. Land is one of the major issues because they like to spend time and money if they are assured that it is land they will get. Technology they will bring it to us, manpower they will choose, enough money they will bring, the returns they will workout but if they don’t even have the land then where to start with?