Budget 2017 looks all set to bring in cheer for Railway coolies, with the Narendra Modi government looking to bring them under social security net of EPFO. A report in the PTI suggests a cess of 10 paise may be levied on each railway ticket to mobilise around Rs 4.38 crore every year for Railway coolies to come under EPFO. “The labour ministry will soon take up the proposal with Indian Railways and the finance ministry for levying the cess, which will be a negligible amount for passengers, but would help bring these 20,000 workers under the social security net of EPFO,” PTI quoted an official as saying.
There are around 20,000 Railway coolies and with this proposal, they would get basic minimum facilities like PF, group insurance and pension. On an average, the Indian Railways is said to issue around 10-12 lakh rail travel tickets everyday. This includes 58% reserved tickets. The proposed cess of 10 paise is on every ticket sold by Indian Railways. It will not be levied per passenger. One ticket sold by Indian Railways can have multiple passengers.
Meanwhile, Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways is unlikely to get as much gross budgetary support as it is seeking from the Finance Ministry, reports CNBC-TV 18. According to the channel’s report, the Railways demand for higher gross budgetary support from Finance Ministry is likely to be turned down. Sources in the government have told the channel that Indian Railways is demanding around Rs 60,000 crore, but the Finance Ministry is likely to give only Rs 48,000 crore to Rs 50,000 crore.
Though the transporter manages to fend for itself, its mammoth, legitimate capex needs are a nagging burden on the exchequer and so commuters will have to pay up, finance minister Arun Jaitley indicated recently. Slated to present the first combined general and railway budget on February 1, the minister also made a case for the railways outsourcing non-core functions like hospitality services.
This is the first time in 92 years that the Railway Budget will be a part of the main Union Budget, and will not be presented separately by the Railway Minister. In a radical reform, in 2016, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accepted Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s proposal to merge the two budgets. The move to discard the age-old practice of a separate Rail Budget is part of the Modi government’s reform agenda. The most important thing is that after the merger, the Railways would not have to pay dividend to the central government and its capital at charge would stand to be wiped off. The Railways used to pay up to Rs 10,000 crore as dividend to the government.
(With inputs from PTI)