Bilour seeks Rs 11.5b as PR bailout package | Pakistan Today

Bilour seeks Rs 11.5b as PR bailout package

ISLAMABAD – Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour Wednesday asked the federal government to release the approved Rs 11.5 billion to Pakistan Railways (PR) as a bailout package.
Responding to a calling attention notice during the National Assembly session, the minister admitted that the PR was losing business because it was running only four freight trains daily. The minister dodged many questions regarding clean and safe environment to passengers in trains while the PR had 40,000 employees. He did not respond to a question regarding corruption in the PR.
He said the PR had suspended passenger trains on seven routes last year. He stated a bailout package of Rs 11.5 billion had been approved by the federal cabinet on December 30, but the finance division had not released the amount. He added the PR could be transformed into a profit-earning organisation if 400 locomotives were added to the existing fleet. He claimed the PR was still a cheap mode of transportation despite hike in its fares.
To a question, the minister opposed the sale of precious lands of the PR, adding privatisation was not possible as it was already facing losses.
The minister said the ministry was trying its best to improve its services, but due to the budget deficit, the PR was facing problems and difficulties.
Bilour said the government had promised allocation of Rs 5 billion in January 2010 for the PR, but the amount was not provided.
He further said the PR had sought Rs 11 billion as loan at the cabinet meeting from State Bank of Pakistan at a low interest rate. However, it was informed that commercial loans having a higher interest rate would be arranged.
The minister further said the ministry had 5,000 wagons which needed 400 locomotives to meet 100 per cent deficit in the budget. He said Pakistan Railways’ budget was reduced from Rs 13.6 billion to Rs 7.3 billion after a cut in the development allocations. He revealed out of total 520 locomotives, only 146 were on track while the rest of them were out of order.
Similarly, he said, 70 per cent carriages were out of order. Regarding property disputes with the Punjab and Sindh governments, he said the PR was convincing the two provincial governments to share the lands at the ratio of 50 per cent.

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