The merger of Rail Budget with the general budget means an instant bonanza of Rs 9,700 crore for the Railways as now it would not need to pay the central government a dividend on the capital at charge.
Over the merger, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said, “I would say it is the biggest reform that has been done in this sector till date. But even after the budget merger, we will retain our financial autonomy. The general managers and divisional railway managers will be equally empowered. The finances would be managed in the same manner but we will be much more focused as the procedural requirements will reduce.”
As per the ET, he further added, “We will continue to discharge all our financial commitments including capacity expansion and improving passenger amenities through our internal resources and through the budgetary support we receive from the government. The existing financial arrangements will continue and we will meet all revenue expenditure, working expenses, pay and allowances, and pensions from their revenue receipts.”
“Besides, we will continue servicing all our financial commitments through our resources, including the burden of the Seventh Pay Commission. As far as transferring of social commitments like giving concessions to students, women, senior citizens and sportsmen to their respective ministries is concerned, that is yet to be sorted out. Our officials will be looking into all those modalities. No decision has been taken on it yet,” Prabhui added.
He also told about other reforms on cards and said, “For the last one year, we have been aggressively pushing for setting up an independent regulator for the Railways. Very soon, we will get an independent regulator for Railways cleared by the Cabinet. It is almost in the final stages. The regulator would be free to recommend fares and freight rates. It would rationalise the entire fare structure for the railways. It would be a big transformational change for the organisation. We will keep rationalising fare as per the market demand.”