Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has written a letter to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seeking an end to the age-old practice of presenting a separate budget for railways by merging it with the General Budget.
Prabhu has recommended ending the 92-year-old practice of presenting a separate budget for Railways and sought merger with the General Budget presented by the Finance Minister, said a senior Railway Ministry official.
The official said though the letter was sent in June, no reply from the Finance Minister has been received yet.
After Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy recommended the merger, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) sought a reply from the Railways last month.
Now that the Railway Minister has responded, a decision has to be taken by the Centre to forego the Rail Budget and merge it with General Budget.
Asked whether there will be Rail Budget in 2017-18 or 2016-17 budget was the last budget for railways, the official said “a decision is yet to be taken on this.”
Currently Railways is facing a loss of Rs 34,000 crore in passenger segment and its earnings are falling. Besides Railways is also facing an accumulated burden of a whopping Rs 4,83,511 crore towards execution of 458 unfinished and ongoing projects.
In the event of a merger, the entire financial burden will be transferred to the Finance Ministry.
Railways is also accountable for annual dividend payment against the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) component that it gets from the government.