The corporation has 37,000 retired employees

Severe cash crunch and inability to mobilise Rs.35 crore despite financial assistance from the government are delaying disbursal of pension to the 37,000 retired employees of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).

“The financial crisis of the State transport undertaking is grave, and we do not know when we can disburse the pension that is paid to the retired personnel on the fifth of every month,” official sources told The Hindu.

Last month, the pension was paid after a delay of 27 days. The corporation utilised the Rs.20 crore that was allowed to be taken from the pension fund by the High Court and the Rs.10 crore that was already with the KSRTC to disburse the pension.

The KSRTC has got Rs.14 crore announced by the government to ‘absorb’ the additional fuel bill on account of it paying market rates for high-speed diesel. “But that it is not enough to pay the pension as the crash crunch is severe. February is a lean season on account of examinations,” the sources said.

The KSRTC has, so far, taken Rs.1,200 crore in loans to pay the pension. The corporation cannot borrow any more from the Kerala Transport Development Finance Corporation Ltd. (KTDFC) from which it has borrowed Rs.1,580 crore. The KSRTC is paying Rs.30 crore every month to the KTDFC for the loan it has taken.

The KSRTC has also not got the remaining Rs.25 crore of the Rs.50-crore special package announced in December last.

“We are pondering how to mobilise the funds for paying salary, as it is not known when the Rs.25 crore announced on Thursday will reach us,” the sources said.

The KSRTC needs 4.3 lakh litres of diesel daily. With the purchase of high-speed diesel at market rates, the monthly fuel bill has climbed to Rs.82 crore. The State-owned oil retailers had given a credit limit of Rs.7 crore, and the KSRTC has to pay the IOC and HPCL to run the fleet.

The corporation needs Rs.52 crore to pay the salary to the 40,180 staff on the rolls, Rs.15 crore for pension fund (10 per cent of the daily collection as directed by the High Court), and Rs.11 crore for Motor Accident Claims Tribunal claims and purchase of tyre, tubes, and spares.

While the monthly expense of the KSRTC has mounted to Rs.230, the income is only Rs.140 crore as the daily collection hovers around Rs.4.3 crore.

The revenue-expenditure gap has gone up from Rs.75 crore (before January 19) to Rs.90 crore, the sources said.

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