New Delhi : The Railway Budget, being presented for the last 92 years will be discontinued from the next financial year. The Railway Budget will be merged along with the 2017-18 Union Budget. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had earlier proposed to discontinue the separate Railway Budget and include it in the Union Budget itself. This proposal has been accepted by the Finance Ministry. It was in the year 1924 that an independent budget was first presented for the Railways; which will now be discontinued after 92 years.
The Union Finance Ministry has constituted a five-member committee. This committee will complete the formal procedure of merging the budgets. It is said that the committee will submit its report by 31st August.
The Railway Minister said that he had written a letter to the Finance Ministry requesting the Rail Budget, to be merged and presented along with the Union Budget. He also said that it is important for the country’s economic development and also in interest of the Railways. Based on the 7th Pay Commission, extra burden of Rs. 40,000 crores will have to be borne by the Railways. An additional 32,000 crore Rupees are spent in subsidies every year.
Meanwhile, the delay in the projects undertaken by the Railways has increased the cost by Rs. 1.07 lakh crores. 442 projects undertaken by the Railways were earlier expected to cost Rs. 1.86 lakh crores. Once the Rail Budget is merged with the General Budget, Railways will also be allotted annual funds like the other departments; whereas the expenses and revenue will also be monitored by the Finance Ministry.
Two members of the Niti Aayog Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai also recommended the need to scrap the separate Railway budget, as informed by Mr. Prabhu. On 9th August, Suresh Prabhu had said in the Rajya Sabha that he had met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley regarding the merging of Rail Budget with the General Budget. He also said that considering the long-term national interest, the merger of Budgets is a necessary change.