From the next fiscal, the 92-year-old practice of presenting a separate Rail Budget is set to come to an end as the Finance Ministry accepted to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s proposal for merging it with the General Budget.
Rail Budget :-
Railway Budget of India also referred as Rail Budget is the Annual Financial Statement of the state-owned Indian Railways, which handles rail transport in India. It is presented every year by the Minister of Railways, representing the Ministry of Railways, in the parliament.
- The Railway Budget is presented every year, a few days before theUnion budget of India.
- Following the recommendation of the 10 member-Ac worth Committee in 1920-21, headed by British railway economist William Acworth. The “Acworth Report” led to reorganization of railways, the railway finances of India were separated from the general government finances in 1924. A practice which continues in independent India to date.
- First live telecast of railway budget took place on 24 March 1994. Lalu Prasad Yadav, who remained Railways Minister from 2004 to May 2009, presented the railway budget 6 times in a row. In 2009, under his tenure a ₹108 billion (US$1.6 billion) budget was passed.
- In the year 2000, Mamata Banerjee, who is the current Chief Minister of West Bengalbecame the first women Railway Minister of India. In the year 2002 she also became the first female Minister of Railways (India) to present the Railway budget, she is also the only woman who presented the railway budget for two different central governments (NDA and UPA).
- In 2014 railway budget, Railway Minister V. Sadananda Gowdaannounced the first bullet train and 9 High-Speed Rail of India. Railway Budget 2016 was presented on February 25, 2016 By Suresh Prabhu.
Rail Budget – No more :-
The Finance Ministry has now constituted a five-member committee comprising senior officials of the Ministry and the national transporter to work out the modalities for the merger. The committee has been asked to submit its report by August 31.
- If the merger happens, Indian Railway will get rid of the annual dividend it has to pay for gross budgetary support from the government every year.
- With the merger, the issue of raising passenger fares, an unpopular decision, will be the Finance Minister’s call and this merger is proposed in the long-term interest of national transporter as well as the country’s economy.
- The public sector behemoth has to bear an additional burden of about Rs 40,000 crore on account of implementation of the 7th Pay Commission awards, besides an annual outgo of Rs 32,000 crore on subsidies.
- Besides, the delay in completion of projects resulted in cost overrun of Rs 1.07 lakh crore and huge throw-forward of Rs 1.86 lakh crore in respect of 442 ongoing rail projects.