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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*^  124909 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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Rail Budget

News Entry# 280868     
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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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Rail Budget

News Entry# 280845     
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Posted by: rdb*^  124909 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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Rail Budget

News Entry# 280844     
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Posted by: rdb*^  124909 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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Rail Budget

News Entry# 280832     
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Posted by: rdb*^  124909 news posts
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
  
Sep 22 2016 (07:08)  Plan to complete budget exercise before April 1 (www.thehindu.com)
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Rail Budget

News Entry# 280831     
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Posted by: rdb*^  124909 news posts
The unified budget, the Union Cabinet decided on Wednesday, would be presented a few weeks earlier than the convention of the last day of February. The date of presentation of the budget for 2017-18 would be fixed keeping in view the schedule for the Assembly elections to be held in States next year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told journalists.
The new date will be announced after obtaining approvals from the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs and the Lok Sabha Speaker, an official said.
The decision to advance the budget is being taken to
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allow for the annual budget exercise to be completed every year before April 1, the start of the new financial year. This is expected to lead to streamlined spending of allocations by States and ministries and ensure rollout of the legislative changes in the tax regime from the beginning of the financial year. It will also preclude the need for seeking appropriation from Parliament through ‘Vote on Account.’
To reduce the bias in favour of Plan expenditure by both the Centre and the States, which, an official release said, has led to a “neglect of essential expenditures on maintenance of assets and other establishment-related expenditures for providing essential social services”, the Cabinet also approved the elimination in the Budget and the government’s Accounts of the Plan and Non Plan distinction.
The bifurcation of expenditure was resulting in a “fragmented view of resource allocation to various schemes, making it difficult not only to ascertain cost of delivering a service but also to link outlays to outcomes,” the release said.
The Railways will continue to maintain their distinct entity and retain its functional autonomy and delegation of financial powers, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told the media briefing. He said the Railways will continue to meet all their expenditure, including ordinary working expenses, pay, and pensions from their revenue receipts.
  
Sep 22 2016 (07:08)  It’s a ticket to privatisation: Ex-Rail Ministers (www.thehindu.com)
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Rail Budget

News Entry# 280830     
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Posted by: rdb*^  124909 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
...
more...
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.
‘This will gladden the heart of Railway Minister who can pass on his pressures to Finance Minister’
  
Sep 22 2016 (07:07)  Centre decides to do away with separate rail budget (www.thehindu.com)
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Rail Budget

News Entry# 280829     
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Posted by: rdb*^  124909 news posts
Finance Minister to make unified presentation, move aimed at ending populism
With the ambition of putting an end to the populism that had come to be associated with it in the last few decades, the Union Cabinet has decided to bring the curtains down on the 92-year-old tradition of presenting a separate Rail Budget. It has been decided to merge the Rail Budget and the General Budget.
Consequently, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will not present it for the year 2017-18. Instead, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present a “unified” budget.
The
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decision, taken on the recommendation of a NITI Aayog committee headed by its member Bibek Debroy, reflects the decrease over time in the relative size of the Rail Budget compared to some of the other components in the General Budget, such as defence and roads & highways, reducing it to a mere “ritual”, Mr. Jaitley told a media conference after the meeting.
Aim of reform
Officials said the reform was intended to “deglamorise” the Railways portfolio and discourage the leveraging of the Rail Budget for handing out largesse to vote banks. Decisions like that are commercially crucial but politically challenging, especially fare hikes would now become routine ones taken any time during the course of a year without as much public glare, said an official.
  
Sep 22 2016 (06:57)  Mother of all mergers (www.thehindu.com)
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Rail Budget

News Entry# 280828     
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Posted by: rdb*^  124909 news posts
Ending a 92-year-old practice, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the merger of the Railway and Union Budget from 2017
In a major overhaul, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved advancing the presentation of the annual Budget by a month, scrapped a over nine-decade-old tradition of having a separate Railway Budget and removed classifications for expenditure to make the exercise simpler.
With a view to getting all the legislative approvals for the annual spending and tax proposals before the beginning of the new financial year on April 1, the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister
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Narendra Modi approved advancing the date for presentation of the General Budget by a month instead of the present practice of unveiling it at the end of February.
The Cabinet also approved merging the Rail Budget with the General Budget and doing away with the distinction of plan and non-plan expenditure, officials said.To facilitate this, the Budget Session of Parliament will be called sometime before January 25, a month ahead of the current practice.
Advancing Budget prep
Accordingly, the beginning of Budget preparation will be advanced to early October and the GDP estimates made available on January 7 instead of February 7 now. Till now, Budget was presented on the last day of February and it is not until mid-May that Parliament approves it in two parts. And with the monsoon arriving in June, most of the schemes and spendings by states do not take off until October, leaving just half a year for their implementation.
Early presentation of Budget would mean that the entire exercise is over by March 31, and expenditure as well as tax proposals come into effect right from the beginning of the new fiscal, thereby ensuring better implementation.
Also, the 92-year-old practice of presenting a separate budget for Railways has been scrapped and proposals pertaining to it would now form part of the General Budget.
Saving time
This would lead to presentation of a single Appropriation Bill, including the estimates of Ministry of Railways, thereby saving precious time of Parliament. The Cabinet also approved removal of distinction between Plan and Non-Plan expenditure as the present classification resulted in excessive focus on former with almost equivalent neglect to items such as maintenance which are classified as Non-Plan.
The Cabinet felt it is the total expenditure, irrespective of Plan or Non-Plan, that generates value for the public. Plan expenditure was for the first time presented separately in the budget for 1959-60.PTI
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