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Sep 25 2016 (20:40)  Finance Ministry begins Budget exercise (www.thehindu.com)
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Rail Budget

News Entry# 281168     
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Posted by: rdb*^  125013 news posts
Issues circular;inter-ministerial meetings from Oct 17
Our Bureau
Kick-starting the Budget-making process for 2017-18, the Finance Ministry on Friday issued the Budget circular highlighting the fresh changes in government accounts that would come into effect from next fiscal.
This includes the advancement of the Budget process and the merger in the distinction of Plan and Non-Plan expenditure.
“With
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the removal of this artificial distinction it is expected that the link between spending and outcomes will improve and become more holistic and focused,” it said, adding that there will be no Five-Year Plan, post the 12th Plan.
The Cabinet had earlier this week approved the proposal to advance the General Budget by a month in order to ensure that it is completed by March 31. It has also cleared the proposal to scrap the distinction between Plan and Non Plan expenditure and merge the Railway Budget with the General Budget.
Along with other nodal ministries, the circular has also been sent to the Financial Commissioner Railways to use the prescribed format for sending its estimates.
All spending classification will be in terms of revenue and capital account. in place of earlier Plan resource estimation, the Ministry of Finance will carry out resource estimation for funding of various Central schemes and programmes as well as central funding for States and UT schemes and programmes in line with the Vision document prepared by the NITI Aayog.
“The budgeting exercise will shift towards a medium term framework to give greater predictability to Ministries about resource availability,” the Ministry further said, adding that all Budgetary allocations would now be made in terms of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.
Laying out the Budgetary time-line, the Finance Ministry said that nodal departments may submit the Revised Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the current fiscal and the Budget Estimates for 2017-18 by October 10.
  
Sep 25 2016 (20:37)  Minister: Budgets merger will bring more funds to Railways (www.thehindu.com)
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Rail BudgetSR/Southern  -  

News Entry# 281164     
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Posted by: rdb*^  125013 news posts
Development works will get a boost’
Our Bureau
The Centre’s decision to merge the Railway Budget with the Union Budget will facilitate better allocation of funds for the Railways, according to Rajen Gohain, Union Minister of State for Railways.
At present, the Railways needs to generate its own funds, which is a major challenge. Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has announced various development projects for
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Railways, and this requires large funds that will now be allocated from the Union Budget, he told newspersons on his first visit to Chennai after taking over as minister.
Discussions
Gohain said he had a series of discussions with officials of the Southern Railway and representatives from various unions on various issues.
The minister said work on commissioning of 5th and 6th lines between Basin Bridge and Moore Market Complex is going on in full swing. Work on Tambaram terminal is expected to be completed soon.
On the 60-km doubling in the Villupurm-Dindigul section and 17 km of the 4th line between Tiruvallur and Tiruvalangadu have been commissioned. The remaining doubling of 113 km between Villupuram and Dindigul will be completed this year, he said.
The full stretch between Madurai and Chennai will have double line electrified track.
Rail safety
A press release said that to strengthen safety, it has been planned to commission an integrated emergency response management system at a cost of Rs. 70 crore, covering 136 stations under the Nirbhaya Fund. To prevent crime against passengers, 537 mail/express trains are escorted daily by 1,121 Railway Protection Force personnel.
  
Sep 23 2016 (19:17)  Crucial panel looking into Railways' finances goes (www.thehindu.com)
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Rail Budget

News Entry# 281002     
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Scrapping of RCC that will end dividend payment to Finance Ministry will help to increase investments in track renewal, maintenance, station improvement and passenger amenities, says a top Railway Ministry official.
As the government decides to merge the Railway budget and the General budget, Union Cabinet on Wednesday scrapped the Railway Convention Committee (RCC), which determines the rate of dividend to be paid to the Finance Ministry, Railway Ministry sources said.
The Committee consisted of 18 members — 12 members of the Lok Sabha and six of the Rajya Sabha. Both the Ministers
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of Railways and Finance were its nominated members. It was constituted in 1949 with the primary role of determining the rate of dividend, modalities of its payment and exemptions. It took on a wider role of examining various subjects related to the working of the Railways and its finances since 1971.
The Cabinet decided on Wednesday that the Railways will not pay dividend to the Finance Ministry for the capital invested in it beginning 2017-18. “Since dividend will no longer be paid, the RCC has been scrapped,” Railway Ministry officials said.
In 2016-17, the Railways were budgeted to pay Rs. 9,731 crore as dividend, whereas the subsidy claimed by the Railways towards loss-making routes was estimated at Rs. 4,301 crore. The net dividend payment to the Finance Ministry was estimated at Rs. 5,430 crore.
“The relief on this count will help us increase investments in track renewal, maintenance, station improvement and passenger amenities,” a top Railway Ministry official said.
However, pension will continue to be a liability of the Railways. In 2016-17, while the pension Bill is pegged at Rs. 45,500 crore, the wage Bill stands at Rs. 70,125 crore. ''The Railways will also bear the social commitment obligation by way of concessions or subsidised travel,” another official said.
  
Sep 23 2016 (07:17)  No more rail budget (www.thehindu.com)
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Rail Budget

News Entry# 280911     
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Posted by: rdb*^  125013 news posts
The Railway Budget becoming a part of the General Budget is just like transferring water contained in a smaller vessel to a bigger one. There is nothing more to this (“Centre to do away with rail budget from next year”, Sept. 22 ). The only notable factor is that the Railway Ministry has lost its 92-year-old privilege of presenting a separate Railway Budget. The anxiety that the merger would pave way for privatisation of the Indian Railways is baseless as the Cabinet is competent to implement it even if it is part of the General Budget.
B. Prabha,
Varkala,
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Kerala
Advancing the presentation of the Budget to allow Parliament to vote on tax and spending proposals before the beginning of the new financial year on April 1 is a good idea. It will turn the focus back to the Indian Railways’ crying need to boost its capital expenditure over the next few years. I understand that the demand for merging the Railway Budget with the General Budget had come from the Railways Minister as a solution to addressing the railways’ revenue deficit and capital expenditure needs. Having given away its budgeting powers, the Railways will now have to show the resolve for implementing reforms if it expects the Finance Ministry to loosen its purse strings.
C. Seshagiri,
Mysuru
The origin of the Railway Budget can be traced to the Acworth Committee, appointed in the early 1920s, to deal with railway finances (“Railway Budget, a vanishing trick”, Sept. 22). It was only after careful study that a separate Rail Budget was proposed.
Integrating the Railway Budget with the General Budget in the name of reforms is tantamount to ignoring the true course of historical facts.
N. Sadasivan Pillai,
Kollam, Kerala
  
Sep 23 2016 (07:14)  Getting Railways on track (www.thehindu.com)
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Rail Budget

News Entry# 280910     
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Posted by: rdb*^  125013 news posts
That it took 69 years after Independence for India to merge the Railway Budget with the Union Budget is an indication of how difficult it can be to junk colonial-era traditions that may have outlived their utility. In 1924, when the first Railway Budget was presented, the Railways entailed more funds than India’s expenditure on all other aspects of administration combined. So it made sense to present a separate Budget. That equation changed long ago, and now the Railways’ outlay is just 6 per cent of the total expenditure proposed in the Union Budget for this year. In fact, revenues from the domestic aviation business are more than the Railways’ traffic earnings. Nearly Rs.2.5 lakh crore has been planned this year as defence expenditure, but it found little mention in the Finance Minister’s Budget speech. Yet, the ritual of the Rail Budget has continued even as the economy opened up over...
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the past 25 years. A key reason that it lingered so long is India’s fractured polity and the tendency of coalition partners to demand Railways as a juicy portfolio with its possibilities for populist posturing and patronage. With the luxury of a majority in the Lok Sabha and a Railway Minister like Suresh Prabhu who has refused to use the Rail Budget as a launchpad for new trains and railway lines, the NDA has thrown its weight behind a plan that takes away the annual temptation to make the Railways a vote-magnet.
India’s annual economic jamboree will now be over in two days — the tabling of the Economic Survey followed by the Union Budget — instead of three. Railway Ministers will no longer need to conjure up fancy and often regurgitated promises about new, improved services for passengers without charging them the operational costs of reaching their destination. The pressure to hold commuter fares has skewed the Railways’ freight rates, year after year. Indeed, the change is already being felt; tweaking of tariffs outside the Budget has begun. Consider the changes in coal freight and the introduction of flexible pricing on premium passenger trains. However, the Centre needs to now seriously consider setting up an independent tariff regulator to depoliticise fares. New lines and trains should be determined by economic viability rather than the constituencies covered. Initiatives such as demand-driven clone trains must be deployed to boost earnings, and the Rs.37,000-crore tab on social obligations, including concessional ticketing, must be borne by the exchequer. The Railways’ accounts need to be cleaned up and made bankable. Scrapping the Rail Budget is a good starting point to fix the fading utility. Bringing it back safely on track will take a lot more doing, and undoing.
  
Sep 22 2016 (15:01)  क्यों आम बजट से अलग पेश किया जाता रहा रेल बजट? (www.totaltraininfo.com)
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Posted by: rks_1975  42 news posts
बजट को लेकर चली आ रही करीब 92 सालों की परंपरा अब खत्म हो जाएगी। अब रेल बजट को आम बजट से अलग पेश नहीं किया जाएगा। यानी अब आम और रेल बजट एक ही बजट में पेश किए जाएंगे।
फैसले की जानकारी देते हुए वित्त मंत्री अरुण जेटली ने बताया, 'बजट पेश करने की तारीख पर फैसला विधानसभा चुनावों को ध्यान में रखकर किया जाएगा।' जाहिर है आज के फैसले के बाद लोगों के मन में ये सवाल जरूर उठा होगा की अब तक ऐसा क्यों होता रहा कि दोनों बजट को अलग-अलग पेश किया जाता रहा।
रेलवे
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के मैनेजमेंट में बदलाव:
1921 में ईस्ट इंडिया रेलवे कमेटी के चेयरमैन सर विलियम एक्वर्थ रेलवे को एक बेहतर मैनेजमेंट सिस्टम में लाए थे। इसके बाद उन्‍होंने 1924 में इसे आम बजट से अलग पेश करने का फैसला किया तब से लेकर पिछले बजट वह अलग ही पेश होता रहा है।
रेल बजट की हिस्सेदारी 1924 के आम बजट में करीब 70 फीसदी थी। इतनी बड़ी हिस्सेदारी को देखकर ही इसे आम बजट से अलग करने का विलियम के प्रस्ताव को स्‍वीकार लिया गया।
आम बजट में इतनी बड़ी हिस्‍सेदारी के पीछे मुख्‍य कारण पब्लिक ट्रांसपोर्ट में 75 फीसदी रेलवे की भागीदारी थी। इसके अलावा माल ढुलाई में 90 फीसदी तक का योगदान होता था।
रेलवे देश की सबसे बड़ी न्योक्ता है। वर्ष 2009 में अखिल भारतीय लेखापरीक्षा और लेखा एसोसिएशन की रिपोर्ट में रेलवे के कर्मचारी कुल केंद्रीय कर्मचारियों का 44 फीसदी हैं।
भारतीय रेलवे ने वर्ष 2013-14 में 23 बिलियन डॉलर का रेवेन्‍यू अर्जित किया। जिसमें से करीब 2.5 बिलियन डॉलर का उसे प्रॉफिट हुआ। रेलवे का क्षेत्र दिन पर दिन बढ़ता ही जा रहा है।
भारतीय रेल से हर साल करीब 23 मिलियन यात्री यात्रा करते हैं।
रेलवे का नेटवर्क काफी बड़ा है। करीब 115,000 किमी के ट्रैक बनाए जा चुके हैं। जिनमें करीब 65,000 से अधिक किलोमीटर के मार्ग शामिल हो चुके हैं। देशभर में करीब 7,172 स्‍टेशन और जिनपर हर दिन करीब 12,617 पैसेंजर ट्रेन और 7421 माल गाड़िया दौड़ती हैं।
भारतीय रेल अपने उत्पादन और विकास पर भी खुद ही ध्यान देता है। साथ ही यह देश के लिए लगभग एक तिहाई माल का भार वहन करता है। उत्पादन सुविधाओं में जैसे इंजन और डिब्बों के उत्पादन सीधे रेल मंत्रालय के तहत आते हैं।
भारतीय रेलवे के साथ करीब 14 अन्‍य सहायक उपक्रम शामिल हैं। भारत कंटेनर निगम लिमिटेड (कॉनकोर) और इंडियन रेलवे कैटरिंग एंड टूरिज्म कॉरपोरेशन (आईआरसीटीसी) इन 14 उपक्रमों में से ही हैं।
  
Sep 22 2016 (07:36)  Dropping separate rail budget is a ticket to privatisation: Ex-rail Ministers (www.thehindu.com)
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News Entry# 280845     
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Posted by: rdb*^  125013 news posts
It will become just another department to be toyed with rather than being used for public good, says Dinesh Trivedi
The end of autonomy and a move towards privatisation were some of the conclusions that were drawn by former Railway Ministers Nitish Kumar and Dinesh Trivedi over the Union Cabinet’s decision to merge the Railway and Union budgets.
Mr. Trivedi said the merging of the budgets could be the first step towards privatisation of the Railways, stating that whatever the merits of the measure, the move smacked of unilateralism.
“This
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was an issue that should have been discussed in Parliament as the separation convention that demerged the two budgets in 1924 had been brought in through legislative means. To say that the measure is a blow against colonialism is neither here nor there. Our entire political system is based on the Westminster model and our statute book awash with colonial laws. We could have scrapped all those as well,” he said.
“The separation convention was set up in 1924 as the Railways were seen as a commercial activity funded by the British government and dividends were to be paid to shareholders. The designation of the Railways as a commercial activity is still there. Does the scrapping of the separation convention mean that it will see a generational change for the Railways, or that the man sitting in Buxar, needing rail connectivity know what is the process he will have to go through?” he said. “It is a move that would gladden the heart of the Railway Minister, who can pass on his pressures to the Finance Minister, and in my view it will pave the way towards privatisation, as it will become just another department to be toyed with rather than being used for public good,” he said.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was Railway Minister under the premiership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said the decision would end the “autonomy” of the largest public carrier in the country. His deputy in the Cabinet Tejaswi Yadav too charged that it was a privatisation move.
“With my personal experience as a former Railway Minister I can say this decision of the Union Cabinet will not benefit the Railways. Instead, this step will end its autonomy,” said Mr. Kumar, while seeking a rethink.
A tradition for long
He said presenting a separate budget for the Railways had been a tradition which all successive governments followed. “The Railways have been the cheapest mode of transportation for the people of the country but with this decision of the Union government the faith of the common people in it will be dented,” he said.
Mr. Tejaswi Yadav said, “In future the Railway Ministry will cease to exist.”
His father and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav too has been the Railway Minister. “During my father’s tenure, the Railways had earned huge profit but see the situation today,” he told journalists.
  
Sep 22 2016 (07:34)  Understanding the rationale behind rail, general budgets' merger (www.thehindu.com)
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News Entry# 280844     
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Posted by: rdb*^  125013 news posts
What prompted the government to take the decision now? How does an early budget help? Here are the answers.
Ending a 92-year-old tradition, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday decided to merge the Railway budget with the General budget and agreed in principle to advance the date of its presentation in Parliament.
Why is the Rail budget presented separately in the first place?
Railway historians
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say that it was during the British rule — in the early 1920s — that on the basis of the report of the Acworth Committee, railway finances (those of government-owned railway companies) were separated from the general finances.
The first Railway budget, under the system, can be traced to 1924.
Why change now?
The move to discard the Rail budget is said to be part of the Modi government’s reform agenda. The NITI Aayog had suggested this merger as the Railway budget was being used to dole out favours by way of new trains and projects.
This merger is also a part of the government advancing the budgetary exercise so as to complete it before March 31 and facilitate the beginning of expenditure on public-funded schemes from April 1.
How is it beneficial?
The merger will help the Railways get rid of the annual dividend they has to pay for gross budgetary support from the government every year. Sources say that the merger will help the cash-strapped Railways save about Rs 10,000 crore annually.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said the merger of rail and general budgets will not impact the functional autonomy of the railways but help in enhancing capital expenditure. It would help the Railways raise extra capital expenditure that would allow them to enhance connectivity in the country and boost economic growth.
How does an early budget help?
An early presentation of budget will ensure that all legislative works are completed before the beginning of the new fiscal, from April, and help in funds allocated to various ministries flowing in from the first quarter.
Sources said the government planned to convene the Budget Session of Parliament before January 25, 2017, present the pre-Budget Economic Survey a day or two before the Finance Minister reads out the budget on February 1.
The advance estimates for the GDP will now be made on January 7, instead of February 7, and mid-year review of expenditure by various ministries is proposed to be completed by November 15.
The idea is to get the budget passed by Parliament, along with the Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill, before March 24, so as to ensure the implementation of the budget proposals from April 1.
Keywords: General budget, Railway budget, Suresh Prabhu, budget merger
  
Sep 22 2016 (07:10)  Nitish flays Union Cabinet decision to scrap separate Railway Budget (www.thehindu.com)
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Former Railway Minister and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday criticised the decision of the Union Cabinet to scrap a separate railway budget and merge it with the general budget which, he said, would end autonomy of the largest public carrier in the country.
Making a strong point against ending over nine-decade old tradition of presentation of separate Rail Budget in Parliament, he asked the NDA government at the Centre to rethink its decision.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved advancing presentation of the annual budget by a month, scrapped over nine-decade
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old tradition of having a separate Railway Budget and removed classifications for expenditure to make the exercise simpler.
“Based on my personal experience as Railway Minister I can say the decision will have no benefit,” said Mr. Kumar, who was Railway Minister during the NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee
“It seems the Railways is not on priority of the NDA government at the Centre...this step would end autonomy of the Railway,s” he told reporters emerging from a press conference on International Sikh conclave.
The Railways is means of transportation of poor people who have unbreakable faith on the largest public transporter, he added.
“Common man has faith on the Railways which would be dented by this decision,” Mr. Kumar said.
Presentation of a separate Railway Budget has been a tradition which all successive governments followed earlier, he said.
Counting virtues of a separate Railway Budget, Mr. Kumar said the dividend paid by the Railways to the government is decided by Parliament.
Attraction of MPs for the Railway Budget was so deep that I have seen Parliament deliberating the entire night on the Rail Budget, he said. - PTI
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