India Today Group
Surfers' comments
The threshold limits on tax need to be increased and tax rates should be spread across more slabs so as not to hurt the salaried class. - Jayaraman

The I-T exemption for men should be Rs 1.8 lakh. Rs 1.5 lakh is peanuts. - Naveen Kumar
More »
Expert comments
Gaurav Taneja,
Partner & National Tax Director says the Finance Minister has stressed on buoyancy in tax collections and on attaining a Tax—GDP ratio of 12.5%.
Motilal Oswal, Chairman and Managing Director of Motilal Oswal Financial Services says the Finance Minister was uniquely positioned to present a landmark Budget.
Srinivasa Rao, Partner & India International Tax Leader, Ernst & Young is of the opinion that Union Budget has lived up to the populist trend.
How this budget affects your
daily life:
Risk Calculator
Future Needs Calculator
Tax Calculator
SIP Calculator
Union Budget 2008-09  »   Story
Lalu presents people's budget, slashes fares
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, February 26, 2008
  Print   Email   A  A  A

With marginal cuts in freight and passenger fares and with a cash profit of Rs 250 billion for this fiscal, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad presented his fifth budget on Tuesday, adding another chapter to the dramatic turnaround story of the Indian Railways.

 More on Railway Budget

Springing a surprise on 14 million passengers who travel by trains every day, Lalu said that fares would be cut by five per cent in sleeper class, four per cent in AC II class, three per cent in AC III tier and seven per cent in AC I class. Transportation of fuels would also cost five per cent less.

The minister also announced in the Lok Sabha 10 new 'garib raths' and 53 other new trains for the next fiscal. He said that for the first time tickets would have the expected time of arrival of trains to ensure punctuality.

"Everybody is appreciating that I have done tremendous work," Lalu Prasad, who was dressed in a cream-coloured sleeveless sweater and his trademark white kurta pyjama, said in English before proceeding with the 115-minute speech in Hindi.

 Related Stories

"We have created an organisation where every child will say Chak de Railways!" said Lalu Prasad in his last full budget for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, with an eye clearly on elections in several states and the later Lok Sabha ballot.

The Indian Railways run more than 11,000 trains every day, 7,000 of which are for passengers. The network comprises 1,08,706 km and ferries the 14 million passengers from 6,853 stations across the length and breadth of the country.

Given its importance, this is also the only ministry that has a separate annual statement of accounts outside the national budget, which will be presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday.

As he read out the budget proposals, Lalu Prasad said the private sector would be permitted to build terminals on land owned by the railways. Also, consultations will begin with foreign companies to design new wagons.

Some of the measures directed at the average citizen included tickets through mobile phones, issuance of wait-listed e-tickets, 6,000 ticketing machines by 2009, LED display boards at stations and higher platforms at 135 stations.

He also announced modular toilets in trains, modernised coaches for some premier trains like Rajdhanis and Shatabdis, touch screens and colour TVs at all major stations and stainless-steel coaches for all trains by 2010.

The minister said that in the past four years, the planned investment in railways had almost tripled to Rs 300 billion from Rs 110 billion even as the freight target of 785 million tonnes was surpassed this fiscal with 790 million tonnes.

He also said that revenues from passenger fares had jumped by 14 per cent, while income from freight loading was up close to 10 per cent at Rs 347 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal.

This apart, the minister said the rail infrastructure would be upgraded over the next seven years at an investment of Rs 750 billion along with the proposal to set up 20,000 km of high-density network for speedier trains.

The minister began his speech, seeking to assuage feelings of some members from Karnataka who took offence to reported comments made by him that they said was offensive to their state.

"I have already clarified my position. Remember, I had made a prime minister from Karnataka," the minister said amid laughter, referring to the support he gave to H.D. Deve Gowda in forming a government.

As he came to the end of Part One of his speech after some 110 minutes, there were noisy protests by opposition members. But Lalu Prasad persisted in reading the report even though Speaker Somnath Chatterjee asked him to table it.

"If leaders of parties behave this way, I cannot understand," an anguished Chatterjee said. "Those who don't want to listen, may go out."

Sector Analysis
Negotiating a rough patch
Demand growth is expected to be buoyant driven by new vehicle launches, likely softening of interest rates and continued growth on the export front.
More »
Railway Budget
Lalu presents people's budget, slashes fares
The minister announced launch of several new trains and reduction in fares across all classes amid chaos by Opposition in Parliament.
More »
A budget for Bharat
Buoyant tax revenues a lower fiscal deficit and an economy that's in top gear permit the FM to pump big money into agriculture and the social sector. Those efforts might help at the hustings, too.
More »
Economic Survey
'Expand telecom infrastructure, R&D'
"With rapid growth of telecom network, there is a need to further expand the infrastructure and research and development," the survey said.
More »
Surfers' comments
This is a very good budget, especially for agriculture and education. P Chidambaram is the best.
- By Saravanan P (
If you can waive Rs 50,000 crore for farmers what about the tax on housing loan interest? That should also have been reduced.
- Chandra Shekar V (
Please tax the street hawkers and give relief to the salaried persons.
- Rajaram (
This is the worst budget the finance minister has ever presented. The backbone of the country's economy is the transport but he completely missed it out.
- Jayakaanthan A (
The budget is sure to augment growth and will also lessen the volatility of the stock markets.
- Sidharth Paul (
Overall, the budget is satisfactory but the health sector should have been given greater importance.
- Ankit Chaudhary (
More »
Send your feedback
E mail
Business Today's Budget edition
Editorial: Predictably populist budget
Special: Something for everyone...
Column: All for the common man
Exclusive interview with the FM
Maintaining the growth story
The Finance Minister defends Budget 2008 and the Rs 60,000 crore loan waiver doled out to farmers in an exclusive interview to Business Today's Sanjoy Narayan and R Sridharan.
"Total reduction of excise duties by 2% will give a welcome boost to the manufacturing sector. Also, the exemption of specified parts of set-top boxes from customs duties is commendable".
- Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice Chairman, Bharti Enterprises
More »
Beginner’s guide to budget
Union Budget is an estimate of the Government of India's revenue and expenditure for the end of a particular fiscal year, which usually runs from April 1 to March 31. Read on...
More »
Are you satisfied with Chidambaram's budget proposals for 2008-09?
Can't Say