Rising expenditure without a commensurate growth in receipts, which has led to greater reliance on borrowings, could worsen the financial condition of the Indian Railways and weaken its future prospects, according to a new report by Prachee Mishra of the New Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research.
She states that the public sector behemoth might find that “business as usual may be an unsustainable prospect” as its finances and infrastructure investment are “stuck in a vicious cycle”, adding that the organisational structure of the Railways needs an overhaul.
The Railways’ total receipts are expected to touch Rs.3,36,090 crore for the 2018-19 fiscal, up 13.3 per cent from the previous year’s revised estimate of Rs.2,96,525 crore. However, much of these receipts are accounted for by budgetary support and extra budgetary resources. Internal resources have grown only marginally in the past few years; from Rs.1,61,018 crore in 2014-15, they are estimated to reach Rs.2,01,090 crore in the current fiscal.
On the other hand, ordinary working expenses climbed from Rs.1,05,996 crore in 2014-15 to Rs.1,30,200 crore in 2017-18 and are expected to touch Rs.1,38,000 crore in the ongoing fiscal. The Railways’ payments to its pension fund, which have also steadily climbed in recent years, are expected to reach Rs.47,500 crore this year, compared with Rs.29,225 crore in 2014-15.