Railways seeks bailout


REGARDLESS of promises made by PTI government to reform the institutions, state owned enterprises continue to eat up billions of rupees every year from the national exchequer. A serious course correction is required to put the house in order otherwise the situation would continue to deteriorate.
Given his experience, one had great expectations from Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad to take the railways towards betterment but now there are reports that the organization has demanded a bailout package from the government to continue its operations. There is no doubt that Pakistan Railways has been hit hard due to losses in revenue following suspension of operations in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Reportedly its shortfall in the first two months of the current fiscal year has accumulated to the tune of Rs 5. 860. The truth however is that even before the breakout of the pandemic, the performance and financial position of Pakistan Railways was not that much stable. Everybody is witness to the increased number of train accidents over the last few years. Such bad is the state of affairs of Railways that the Supreme Court also had to ask the government to come up with its revival plan. Whilst the government should support the Railways to pay the salaries and pensions of the employees, time has come to firm up a comprehensive plan to transform the organization as per the modern day requirements. ML-1 project envisaging upgradation of railways infrastructure from Karachi and Peshawar has the potential to change the fortunes of the railways and make it a revenue generating organization. Already this project has faced much delay for various reasons. We will ask the Minister for Railways to invest more of his time and energy on the start of work on this strategically important project which will not only generate immense job opportunities but also go a long way in exporting our goods up to the Central Asian States. Then decisions regarding PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills and other loss-making enterprises also need to be taken on a fast track basis so that the taxpayers’ money could only be spent on the welfare of the people.