After the harsh dose of economic medicine administered by the union government in the form of increased freight rates (goods fare) on Friday, the city industry has reacted sharply, stating that the promise of bringing the economy back on track has been belittled.
After the announcement to increase freight rate by 6.5%, industrial leaders came forward to criticise the move of the BJP-lead central government. Industrialists say that the increase in freight charges will result to an increase in the prices of all goods.
Federation of Associations of Small Industries of India (FASII) national president Badish Jindal said,
“The increase of 6.5% is on the higher side. Punjab is dependent upon thermal power and with increased freight the power cost will also increase. The state also depends upon eastern and southern states for its immense steel needs.”
He said the goods manufactured from Punjab, including hosiery, bicycles and bicycle parts were sent to other states by railways, and the state was away from ports too, so the industry here will be badly affected with the increased rates.
The industrialists say that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre after its formation had promised that inflation would be brought down, but the first major decision has caused ripples, and has given indications that union budget will not provide any relief to the industry.
Knitwear Club chairman Vinod Thapar said, “We are shocked over the decision of 14.2% hike in passenger fare and 6.5% in goods fare with effect from June 25. Before coming to power, the NDA had committed to provide relief to the industry and the common man, but the government has given a gift to the citizens by increasing the railway fare.”
“With the hike in fare, coal rates will also increase, resulting to an increase in the rates of electricity and other commodities. With the multiple increases in input, the cost of the product will automatically go high,” he said.
The issue has also taken a political turn and the opposition (Congress) has condemned the hike. District president (urban) Pawan Dewan termed the price hike as the beginning of bad days.
“Such a major hike of 14.2% is one of the biggest hikes ever made by any government,” Dewan said. He said the hike of 6.5% in freight will indirectly affect the common man.