and amortisation) in the five years up to 2008-09 by Rs 17,000 crore. Prasad also proposed the disputed concept of “investible surplus” for the Railways. This was a novel financial yardstick for the entity that conventionally reported either surplus or shortfall. Banerjee’s criticism notwithstanding, these accounting changes ought to have been seen as the first step towards attracting lender interest in the railway projects.
Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who recently revised passenger fares across the board after a decade, has sought Rs 38,000 crore, the gross budgetary outlay for railways in 2013-14 as against this year’s Rs 24,000 crore. No reiteration is required for Railways’ over-dependence on budget support.