New Delhi, December 5: A closed-door investor meet called by the Indian Railways on Friday turned out to be more a grievance airing forum for former investors, according to multiple sources present at the meet. Representatives from over 60 firms, such as Gammon, IDFC, Concor, Tata Projects, Tata Realty, SBI Capital, Siemens, Texmaco, among others, attended the meet called by the Railways. Container train operators, hit by a sharp increase in haulage rates, said: Ambiguity in public policy along with fear of scrutiny has been resulting in executive actions against the interest of partners. Also, the change in the fineprint of policy and its implementation after the public-private partnership (PPP) relationship starts has resulted in erosion of investor and analyst confidence. The risk is tipped against the private sector partner in all PPP projects, said Sachin Bhanushali, CEO, Gateway Rail Freight Ltd, who is General Secretary of the Association of Container Train Operators.
The container train operators and investors in private freight terminals raised concerns about policy inconsistency, said Arunendra Kumar, Chairman, Railway Board, in a press conference. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said the Railways would take care of concerns of all stakeholders while implementing PPP projects. Concerns were raised on time taken for sanctions. We would certainly like to change any clause that is coming in the way of growth except it has to be transparent and same for all, said Kumar. The meeting started with the Railways sharing the recently finalised framework for private and foreign direct investment with the participants. Prabhu said the Railways has to protect its vast employee pool and at the same time look after the interests of users.
Past experience shows there is need for a transparent, balanced, fair and bankable framework under which customers/investors can make investments in the rail sector. The Ministry on the basis of Participative Policy of December 2012 has prepared Model Concession Agreements. These agreements, prepared by the Committee of Executive Directors at Railway Board in consultation with Legal Consultant and the Ministry of Law, provide a framework for rights and obligations of different parties and risk allocation between them in a fair manner thereby balancing risks and responsibilities. The agreements will be helpful to Government, customers and financial institutions/bankers to give a push to building and strengthening rail infrastructure, Prabhu said in a statement. The Railways plans to have such investor meet once every two months, an official said.