Finance babus say no to Railways bailout package

LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways is still awaiting Rs11.1 billion bailout package pledged by the federal government, as the Finance Department is reluctant to issue the package, TheNation has learnt on good authority.“The cash-stripped utility has not yet received a penny from the announced package, one source said on Wednesday. On December 30, 2010, the Federal Cabinet unanimously approved the bailout plan for the Railways, coupled with an enhanced overdraft facility to the tune of Rs10 billion, in a view to bringing out the colonial legacy out of the crises. In a recent meeting between the ministries of Railways and Finance, the former’s management was told to utilise its own resources to meet the crises. The sources revealed that the Finance Ministry’s reluctance has stemmed from the view that the PR could easily stand on its feet just by introducing managerial discipline and ending the prevailing corruption. But the problem was deepened in such a way that it could not be solved without the immediate injection of financial help, the officials of the department believed.The management believed that that the 50 percent increase in pay and pension allowances, increase in price of high speed, damage to assets of the PR during the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and due to flood, disruption of freight train operations due to HSD shortage were the issues which needed to be addressed immediately. And if the government has not paid the immediate attention towards the issue, the rail operation would be shut off and the future of about 87,000 employees of the utility would become dark.Though the rail management raised the fare up to 20 per cent to raise some revenue and announced various steps to attract private parties into rail business yet the situation was not improved, ultimately the PR has no money for the salaries and procuring diesel to run the trains.The sources said that the finance ministry has been informed that non-availability of locomotives over the years had been affecting the commercial viability of Pakistan Railways. Furthermore, the government has been requested to take responsibility of returning the foreign loans worth Rs16 billion borrowed by railways. However, it was not seemed that the PR would be provided any help in this regard, the sources claimed – Nation