Swati’s plausible strategy

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NEW Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati seems to be on the right track as far as performance, output and improvement of Railway infrastructure and facilities are concerned. Addressing a news conference, he categorically stated that he would not allow sale of assets of Pakistan Railways, retrieve railway land and has a strategy to revive the institution within six to nine months.
This is really a futuristic approach that deserves to be appreciated by all those who care about assets and potential of different institutions of the State. We have been hearing about reforms in public sector entities but the term is mainly confined to disposal of assets to raise money and massive retrenchment to save the money. This happened in the past and is being repeated by the incumbent government, which has identified lands and assets of different organizations and is now making plans to hand them over to the private sector on terms that might not contribute significantly to improve either financial health of these organizations or their functioning. We have been emphasizing in these columns that land owned by ministries, divisions and subordinate offices is meant for future planning and it would not be a saner approach to dispose of their properties at throw-away prices for one-time gains. Pakistan Railway owns a huge land bank but regrettably its land in different parts of the country is under occupation of individuals, departments and provincial governments and the organization hardly receives anything substantial against this so-called ‘leased’ land. The PR has approximately 168141 acres of land in its seven operating divisions and one workshop division at Mughalpura, Lahore. The railway can increase its income if lease agreements are revised as per modern day realities and rates. Similarly, then Railway Minister of PML(N) Government Khawaja Saad Rafiq effectively demonstrated that performance and working of the institution can be improved without frequent bailout packages from the government and through hard work and devotion. Azam Swati is a visionary person and there is no reason he would not succeed in his plans for improvement provided he takes the railway management and staff on board.

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