Friday, 5 August 2011

‘White Elephant’ to be fed another Rs10 billion

PM Gilani says Railways minister not an ‘ineligible’ person

Mahmood Sadiq

LAHORE – To save the seemingly fast-sinking ship of Pakistan Railways, the federal government has now decided to approve more than Rs10 billion funds to bail out the state-owned ‘white elephant’.
Journalist in Multan failed to keep them off bursting into laughter on Friday when Prime Minister Gilani told them that Pakistan Railways (PR) Minister Gulam Ahmed Bilour was not and ‘ineligible’ person. To defend the minister who has so far performed too poorly, he said: The decline of the department was underway since long and Bilour was not to blame for the crisis.
Ministry's senior officials in Islamabad, desiring not to be named, argued that the organisation that has turned into a ‘white elephant’ declares itself on the verge of financial collapse at the end of every month. And the government just for face-saving releases some money to run the organisation for time being, they said, terming the recent funds approval a 'peanut' in face of the overall crisis.
As for the current bail-out plan, the Cabinet Committee on Restructuring (CCoR) decided on Friday that PR would be provided Rs6.1 billion through a banking consortium for rehabilitation of locomotives while Rs4 billion would be given through re-prioritisation of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) of FY 2011-12 for improvement of tracks and rolling stock. Similarly, Rs15 billion have already been allocated for PR in PSDP, release of which shall be fast tracked; and line of credit from Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to PR has been increased to Rs2 billion to ensure smooth supply of oil to the Railways.

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