The finance ministry is not keen on bearing the pension liabilities of the railways for the current fiscal year, as it reminded the national carrier of its autonomy.
The railways lost a substantial proportion of its revenue from freight and passenger traffic due to coronavirus pandemic, which prompted the national transporter to approach finance ministry to meet its shortfall.
“You cannot have both things — autonomy and shifting of pension liability to us. Everything comes in package,” a key finance ministry official said.
A source close to the finance ministry said that the railways should re-prioritise its projects and rationalise freight to meet the shortfall.
For fiscal year 2020-21, pension liabilities increased to RS 1.46 trillion for railways of which RS 92,993 crore accounted for staff cost and the remaining RS 53,000 crore accounted for pension bill.
During the first six months of FY 2020-21 the revenue from freight, passenger traffic and sundry segments dipped to RS 53,725 crore which was 39% or 34,257 crore less than previous year.
The railways is the only government department in India which meets pension expenditure from a pension fund which was introduced on 2003.