Kharge admits Railways ended the two years under Trinamool chief in the negative of Rs. 2,075 crore and Rs. 385 crore
Perhaps the most important part of Mallikarjun Kharge’s maiden Railway budget is setting the financial accounts for 2010-11 and 2012-13 in the right perspective, without allowing the next government or the CAG to point out that he had made play with figures.
Mr. Kharge was basically correcting the claims made by the then Minister, Mamata Banerjee, that the Railways had earned a profit in the two years under her charge.
He admitted that the Railways ended these two years in the negative of Rs. 2,075 crore and Rs. 385 crore.
Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar and Finance Commissioner Rajendra Kashyap parried questions whether figures had been fudged and said some individual items had not been foreseen, and there were some fluctuations between the revised and actual figures. Significantly, nor did Dinesh Trivedi, Ms. Banerjee’s successor, correct the error.
Even Pawan Bansal did not dare tell the country what Ms. Banerjee had done, though her Trinamool Congress withdrew support to UPA-II when he presented the budget.
Mr. Kharge did not explain the impact of the setbacks on the operating part. The Railways are to modify the operating ratios for the two years, as these would now be in the negative territory, whereas officially they are still at 94.59 and 94.85 per cent.
In any case, the finances of the Railways are far from healthy, and the balance sheet has been managed by curtailing expenses in crucial areas to keep the accounts in the black. This fits into a pattern followed for some years now.
The earnings were below target, with the exception of freight income.