Pakistan Railways’ next year deficit to exceed Rs 62 billion

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Pakistan Railways (PR) has estimated a deficit of around Rs 62 billion for the next fiscal year against an expected earning of Rs 20 billion. National Assembly Standing Committee on Railways Chairman Sardar Ayyaz Sadiq told reporters on Monday after presiding over a meeting at PR Headquarters that railways had prepared a deficit budget for 2011-12. The deficit would be over Rs 62 billion, with earnings estimated at Rs 20 billion against an expenditure of Rs 82 billion. He said PR had demanded a Rs 53 billion bailout package last year, but the cabinet had only allowed Rs 13.6 billion, which was revised to Rs 4.8 billion. However, only Rs 2.8 billion had been provided by the government which was insufficient for efficient operations.
Detailing the deficit and the expenditure, Sadiq said railways needed Rs 16.5 billion for salaries, Rs 14 billion for pension payment, Rs 18 billion for fuel and Rs 19 billion for stores, while about Rs 20 billion revenue was expected through PR’s own resources. Earlier in the meeting, Sadiq assured the railways management of his full support for reviving the organisation. He said it was not the time to criticise the railways, but said he had no sympathy for the black sheep in the department, adding that he highly respected those officers who had been very seriously working to pull the PR out of the financial mess. The meeting was attended by Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, NA standing committee members Begum Nasim Akhtar Chaudhry, Dr Talat Mahesar, Ramesh Lal, Rana Tanveer Hussain, Rahela Baloch, Mir Dost Muhammad Mazari, Malik Abrar Ahmad, PR Chairman Saeed Akhter, the PR general manager and PR Police IG Ibne Hussain.
According to sources, the meeting discussed oil theft unearthed in the PR Lahore Division, TLA notification, the Rs 7000 minimum salary package for railways employees and the PR budget. Sadiq later told reporters that the committee had approved a notification about the confirmation of TLA employees who were working on contract, adding that 2,800 employees would benefit from the decision. He said a joint committee of finance, labour and railways ministries had been proposed to take up the issue minimum salary and the railways chairman would oversee the matter. Commenting on oil theft in the PR Lahore Division, he said the theft had been unearthed by divisional superintendent Lahore Abdul Jabbar and it was decided in the meeting that no committee member or officer would support burglars. He said the railways administration was evolving a mechanism to check theft.
Sadiq said the committee was trying to meet the prime minister to inform him about the problems and issues of the department. Railways Minister Ghulam Alhmad Bilour said railways were the back bone of the country’s economy and the road infrastructure would collapse soon if the organisation was allowed to fail.