Today the Union Cabinet approved the merger of the annual railway budget with the Union general budget. The 92-year-old colonial tradition of separate Rail Budget has been scrapped, now it is merged with the Union Budget. This idea of a merger was first proposed by NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy.
This merger move is expected to help the cash-strapped Indian Railways save about Rs 10,000 crore annually. This will help the railways in recovering from the financial trouble and demanded that the finance ministry should take up the railways economic liabilities.
The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke to the reporters after the Cabinet meeting. He said,
“Rail budget and general budget will be amalgamated. From now on, there will only be one budget. However, the functional autonomy of Indian Railways will continue to be maintained.”
Indian railways is the largest employer in India with an employee strength of 1.334 million and it is the eighth largest employer in the world.
Indian Railways has an annual outgo of Rs. 33,000 crore on subsidies for passenger service. It has an additional burden of about Rs. 40,000 crore on account of implementation of the 7th Pay Commission. Indian Railways is also facing an accumulated burden of an enormous Rs. 4.83 lakh crore towards execution of 458 unfinished and ongoing projects.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu called it ‘a historic step’, he further said,
“This merger will help raise capital expenditure in Railways which will enhance connectivity in the country and boost economic growth. Functional autonomy, distinct identity of Railways will remain as it is. Our efforts to leverage extra budgetary resources will continue.”
So what do you think of this move guys? Do you think it would help in improving the state of Indian Railways? Do share your views and opinions in the comments.