The Minister of Railways, Dinesh Trivedi, presented the Railways Budget 2012 to Parliament on 14th March.  While commenting on the financial position of Railways, the Minister said that 'the Indian Railways are passing through a difficult phase'. The Operating Ratio for the closing year is now estimated to equal 95%. This is significantly higher than the 91.1% figure budgeted last year. Operating Ratio is a metric that compares operating expenses to revenues. A higher ratio indicates lower ability to generate surplus. Surplus is used for capital investments such as laying of new lines, deploying more coaches etc. Therefore, a smaller surplus affects the Railway’s capability to make such investments. Budget v/s Revised estimates 2011-12 Budget 2011-12 had estimated the performance of Railways for the financial year. Revised estimates have now been submitted. Taken together, these two figures help in comparing actual performance against targets. Some observations are enumerated below:

  • Total receipts decreased by Rs 2,746 crore.
  • Total expenditure increased by Rs 2,102 crore.
  • Operating Ratio increased from 91.1% to 95%. This implies a decrease in surplus.
  • Appropriations to the ‘Development Fund’ and the ‘Capital Fund’ decreased from Rs 5,258 crore to Rs 1,492 crore (a decrease of 72%). The ‘Development Fund’ finances expenditure such as passenger amenities; the ‘Capital Fund’ is used for capital augmentation such as laying of new lines.

Budget estimates 2012-13 In 2012-13, Railways plan to improve Operating Ratio to 84.9% and to increase surplus to Rs 15,557 crore. This is more than 10 times the surplus generated in 2011-12 (Revised Estimates). The effective increase in freight rates is estimated to average 23%. During this time, passenger fares are also estimated to increase by an effective average rate of 19%. [1] Infrastructure Performance during the 11th Plan Under the 11th Five Year Plan, the total plan expenditure for Railways had been approved at Rs 2,33,289 crore. The Outcome Budget shows that the actual expenditure is only likely to be Rs 1,92,291 crore. Thus, expenditure will fall short by Rs 40,998 crore. This gaps exists despite a significant increase in the Gross Budgetary Support approved by Parliament. Plan expenditure during 2007-12 (In Rs Crore)

 

Approved Expenditure

Actual Expenditure

Gross Budgetary Support

63,635

75,979

Internal Resources

90,000

67,763

Extra Budgetary Support

79,654

48,549

Total

2,33,289

1,92,291

The Standing Committee on Railways, in its 11th report presented in August 2011, had sought an explanation from the Ministry. According to the Ministry, lower mobilization of internal resources and lack of extra budgetary support are the main reasons for the shortfall.  Internal resource mobilization has been low because of (i) impact of the 6th Pay Commission; and (ii) slow growth in freight earnings due to the economic slowdown. Extra budgetary resources have been low due to non-materialization of funds through the Public-Private Partnership route. Proposals for the 12th Plan Two recent committees – Kakodkar Committee on Railway Safety and the Pitroda Committee on Railway Modernization – have called for large investments in the next five years. The Kakodkar Committee has recommended an investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore in the next five years to improve safety; the Pitroda Committee has recommended an expenditure of Rs 3,96,000 crore in the next five years on modernization. The Railway sub-group of the 12th Five Year Plan has also estimated a requirement of Rs 4,42,744 crore for various other investments proposed to be undertaken during the Plan period. [2] All three groups have called for significant investments in infrastructure augmentation in the next five years. Budget proposals 2012-13 According to the Minister’s speech, the Annual Plan outlay for the year 2012-13 has been set at Rs 60,100 crore. The plan would be financed through:

  • Gross Budgetary Support of Rs 24,000 crore
  • Railway Safety Fund of Rs 2,000 crore
  • Internal Resources of Rs 18,050 crore
  • Extra Budgetary Resources of Rs 16,050 crore. Of this, Rs 15,000 crore would be borrowed from the market through IRFC (Indian Railway Finance Corporation).

What happens now? The Budget is likely to be discussed in the two Houses within the next few days.  Post the discussion, the Ministry's proposals will be put to vote.  Once passed, the Ministry can put its proposals into action. For more details on the Railway Budget, including the projects proposed this year and the status of proposals made last year, please see our analysis here. To understand some of the challenges faced by the Indian Railways, see our blog post from last year. Notes: [1] The ‘effective average fare’ has been calculated by dividing the total income from the segment (freight/ passenger) by the total traffic (in NTKM/ PKM).  This would vary with changes in fares as well as the usage by different categories of users (including the proportion of tickets booked through Tatkal). [2] Source: Report of the Expert Group on Railway Modernization (Chairman: Sam Pitroda)

Discussion on the first no-confidence motion of the 17th Lok Sabha began today.  No-confidence motions and confidence motions are trust votes, used to test or demonstrate the support of Lok Sabha for the government in power.  Article 75(3) of the Constitution states that the government is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha.  This means that the government must always enjoy the support of a majority of the members of Lok Sabha.  Trust votes are used to examine this support.  The government resigns if a majority of members support a no-confidence motion, or reject a confidence motion.  

So far, 28 no-confidence motions (including the one being discussed today) and 11 confidence motions have been discussed.  Over the years, the number of such motions has reduced.  The mid-1960s and mid-1970s saw more no-confidence motions, whereas the 1990s saw more confidence motions.  

Figure 1: Trust votes in Parliament

 image

Note: *Term shorter than 5 years; **6-year term.
Source: Statistical Handbook 2021, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; PRS.

The no-confidence motion being discussed today was moved on July 26, 2023.  A motion of no-confidence is moved with the support of at least 50 members.   The Speaker has the discretion to allot time for discussion of the motion.  The Rules of Procedure state that the motion must be discussed within 10 days of being introduced.  This year, the no-confidence motion was discussed 13 calendar days after introduction.  Since the introduction of the no-confidence motion on July 26, 12 Bills have been introduced and 18 Bills have been passed by Lok Sabha.  In the past, on four occasions, the discussion on no-confidence motions began seven days after their introduction.  On these occasions, Bills and other important issues were debated before the discussion on the no-confidence motion began.

Figure 2: Members rise in support of the motion of no-confidence in Lok Sabha