PR austerity drive takes a nosedive | Pakistan Today

PR austerity drive takes a nosedive

Within just two weeks of its start, the energy conservation and austerity drive by the Pakistan Railways (PR) went down the drain when the department chairman lifted the restriction on using air-conditioners in PR offices on Tuesday.
According to sources, after a meeting of senior railway officials with the National Assembly Standing Committee on Railways on Monday at the PR Headquarters, the restriction on using ACs, which was imposed 13 days ago, was lifted and officers, who were suffering badly owing to scorching heat in their offices, were permitted to use ACs from 11am to 3pm. Sources said that the restriction was imposed in PR offices throughout the country within its nine divisions and windows offices of senior railway officials remained open during the period but as soon as the restriction was lifted, ACs started functioning in full swing.
PR Public Relations Director Mohsin Yousaf, confirming the report, said that BPS-20 and above officers were entitled to using air conditioners in their offices. Ironically, the financially-stricken PR is facing a non-development deficit of around Rs 62 billion for the next fiscal year 2011-12. On the one hand, the administration is asking the federal government for a bailout plan amounting to Rs 53 billion to rehabilitate its infrastructure and operational affairs, but on the other hand, officers are not willing to sacrifice their privileges and perks.
NA Standing Committee on Railways Chairman Sardar Ayaz Sadiq told journalists on Monday that the PR would face a deficit of Rs 62 billion as against the income of Rs 20 billion, the department would have to incur expenditures of around Rs 82 billion. He said Rs 16.5 billion was needed for salaries, Rs 14 billion for pensions, Rs 18 billion for fuel and Rs 19 billion for stores.
Railways Minister Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, who has long been demanding extra funds for the department, said that railways was the backbone of the economy and needed support of the federal government to bring back the department on track but railways officials were not in a mood to make sacrifices for the revival of railways.

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