Railways today maintained that the merger of its budget with General Budget will have no adverse effect on its functioning and there will be positive outcome as the exchequer support to the national transporter will increase henceforth.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will not present a separate Rail Budget for the fiscal 2017-18 in the coming budget session in Parliament as the government has decided to do away with the year-long tradition of having it separately.
“Merger of Rail Budget has positive implications. It is very simple, no adverse implication and only positive implication,” Railway Board Chairman A K Mittal said at the Edotors’ conference here.
He said the Railways will no longer pay dividends to the exchequer which is a gain for the organisation.
Railways receieve gross budgetary support from the Finance Ministry and in return pay dividends on it.
“We have paid about Rs 9500 cr as dividends this year but now we do not have to pay dividends any longer after the merger,” Mital said.
Comparing with other transporter sectors, he said investment in railways was much less than the road sector over the years and as a result rail sector was languishing for the lack of infrastructure development.
“The investment in road sector was twice more than the rail sector. But now we hope a holistic approach will be adopted by the government for the whole transport sector including railways, road, waterways and others,” he said.
Asked about the possibilities of announcement of any tie-up with Japan on rail sector during the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ongoing Japan trip, he said “further discussion of Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project is expected to come up.”
Japan is providing financial and technology support to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.
On the demonitisation crisis, he was asked whether ticket counters are being used to convert black money to white and he said “Railways is in the buisness of carrying passengers and goods and is not for changing the colour of the money.”
After the demonitisation of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes, ticket counters all over the country are witnessing heavy rush as people are using these notes to buy tickets and subsequently cancelling them to encash smaller denomination notes.
“Some people might think of that way. But now the refund will go to their account only,” he said.
Railways has decided to give refund money worth Rs 10,000 or above to the customers bank accounts.