Off track: Govt refuses to bail out Pakistan Railways


The government on Thursday rejected pleas for help by Pakistan Railways, refusing to shoulder the burden of $112 million (about Rs 11.5 billion) worth of debt liabilities due to China, which is expected to further weaken the financial condition of the corporation, a local English daily reported.

Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique asked the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, in a meeting held on Thursday, to take on the debt as the railways was unable to meet its debt obligations, officials said.

ECC Chairman Ishaq Dar, who is also the finance minister, rejected the request, arguing that after Pakistan Railways, other entities would also start seeking similar treatment. However, a Rs 7 billion bailout was granted to the Pakistan International Airlines last week. 

Pakistan Railways is facing acute financial problems and is unable to pay salaries and pensions to its employees without seeking grants from the government. Last week, the government gave a grant of Rs 500 million to the railways for repairing out-of-order locomotives.

Registering NGOs

In the meeting, the ECC also constituted a committee to streamline the process of registering international and domestic non-governmental organisations.

The committee, to be headed by Science and Technology Minister Zahid Hamid, will submit its report to the ECC in two months and suggest how to check the rapid growth of INGOs and NGOs in the country.

LNG terminals

The ECC also approved three different projects for the construction of terminals for import of liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to an official handout.

It allowed the establishment of Engro Terminal, which will likely be completed in eight months at an estimated cost of $30-40 million and having a capacity of 200 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd).