General Budget 2016-17 – Suggestions by AIRF to Finance Minister…
All India Railwaymen’s Federation
4, State Entry Road,
New Delhi – 110055
Dated: January 13, 2016
Hon’ble Finance Minister,
Ministry of Finance,
(Government of India),
Sub: Suggestions for the General Budget 2016-17:
All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF), representing more 1.3 million Railwaymen, wish to submit the following significant suggestions for consideration in the ensuing General Budget 2016-17:-
- Provision of Rs.35,000 crore for implementation of VII CPC Report in the Railways – Indian Railways is broadly functioning as social entity; serving the vast spectrum of the society, majority of whom belongs to lower income group. Railways, is therefore, facing financial crunch on account of little flexibility in freight and fare. To implement report of the VII CPC Indian Railways require Rs.35,000 crore during the coming financial year 2016-17. Keeping in view total scenario and financial health of the Indian Railways as also the aspirations of the people of this country to modernize the Railways, provision of at least Rs.35,000 crore should be made for implementation of VII CPC report for the Railwaymen.
- Exemption of the Railwaymen from the purview of National Pension System(NPS) – Successive Hon’ble Minister for Railways, accepting the established fact that the Indian Railways is the second line of defence of this country, and the Railwaymen have always proved their worth during all wars, may be 1962, 1965 and 1971, have already recommended for exemption of the Railwaymen from the purview of National Pension System(NPS). Since Railways is an operational department, Railwaymen have to work round-the-clock throughout the year and also have to stay away from their families for long period time while performing duties in the areas where adequate facilities are not available. Railwaymen have to work throughout the year in all weather conditions and their duties are of such complex and critical as well as hazardous in nature and they have to sacrifice their lives, while performing duties, in large number every year, as already accepted by the High Power Committee constituted by the Ministry of Railways under the Chairmanship of Dr. Anil Kakodkar. Therefore, Railwaymen deserve exemption from the purview of National Pension System(NPS), irrespective of their date of appointment on par with armed forces. It would also be pertinent to point out here that, the Indian Railways is the only government department which is shouldering total burden of payment of Pension/Family from its own resources.
- Raising the limit of exemption from Income Tax deduction – Despite several announcements, one of the major issues in the election manifesto, limit of exemption from Income Tax, could not be raised during the last General Budget(2015-16) as per aspiration of the people of this country. It would not be out of context to submit that, value of the Rupees has substantially devaluated over the years, as a result of which, Dearness Allowance, which is paid to compensate this devaluation of money, has already crossed 119% w.e.f. 1st July, 2015 and is further likely to be increased during this year. This largely justifies that, limit of exemption from Income Tax deduction should be raised to at least 5 lakh per annum. AIRF, therefore, urges that, this aspect needs to be considered in the ensuing General Budget.
- Provision of adequate allocation of funds for Education and Healthcare – Education and medical facilities in the market have become quite costly, as such gradually going out of reach of the common man because of business type educational institutes and private hospitals. Public Education System and medical facilities have drastically deteriorated over the year due to paucity of funds being allocated under these heads. This is also creating huge imbalance in the Indian Society. There is, therefore, urgent need of augmenting education and healthcare for the common man of this country, for which allotment of funds under these heads needs to be raised to 6% and 4% respectively of the GDP.
- Allotment of funds for Skilled India Mission of the Hon’ble Prime Minister – A number of railway stations are proposed to be developed for skill development of the youth, as already announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, for which, substantial fund would be required. Since this is a National Mission and the Indian Railways is not in a position to bear this burden due to financial crunch, adequate fund needs to be allotted for this purpose in the ensuing General Budget.
- Budgetary support for modernization and augmentation of Indian Railways – Indian Railways is the cheapest and most convenient mode of transport for common man of this country and is virtually lifeline of the nation. To fulfill the aspirations of the rail users, services of the Indian Railways need to be augmented to run this organization more safely and efficiently. It may be appreciated that the Indian Railways is a government organization. As such, Dividend and Lease Charges need not be recovered from the Railways, rather budgetary support, which has drastically declined over the year, should be increased adequately for modernization and augmentation of the Indian Railways. It has been observed that, Service Charges are also being taken on many materials and components manufactured or purchased by the Railways. Being government organization, Service Charges must not be taken from the Indian Railways.
- Implementation of “Own Your House Scheme” for the Railwaymen – Indian Railways is employing more than 13 lakh employees who work round-the-clock in all weathers throughout the year. Only a marginal number of railway staff is provided with railway quarters while others have to starve badly for residential accommodation or are forced to reside as tenant. Former Hon’ble Minister for Railways, considering this apathy of the railwaymen, had made announcement in the Rail Budget regarding “Own Your House Scheme”, which has not seen light of the day due to paucity of funds. AIRF, therefore, urges that, necessary funds be allotted for this purpose, which will not only help in providing accommodation to needy railwaymen, but also in rapid growth in construction industry and boost the GDP of the country.
- Refund of Pension Charges born by the Indian Railways – Indian Railways is the only government organization which takes care of entire Pension/Family Pension and Retirement benefits to the Railway employees, whereas for the whole lot of government employees, Government of India owns responsibility. At present, Indian Railways is disbursing around Rs.28,000 in the form of retirement benefits, including Pension/Family Pension to their employees and their dependents. It would be appreciated, if this money should be refunded to Indian Railways to improve economic health, and by this way there will be at least some provision for improvement in the safety standard and passenger care of the Indian Railways.
- Refund of subsidy – Indian Railways is spending around Rs.26,000 crore for the subsidized fare, being given to the passengers. It is cross subsidy from freight to passengers. It would be in all appropriateness if this amount should be refunded to Indian Railways, so that it could take various important projects pending since years.
AIRF earnestly hope that its aforementioned suggestions would be given due consideration while preparing ensuing General Budget 2016-17 by the government.
With kind regards!
(Shiva Gopal Mishra)