New Delhi [India], Sept. 21 (ANI
): Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan
on Wednesday said the Union Cabinet's nod to merge the railway budget with the general budget from next year will not help in completing the pending projects faster, adding the only major change post this decision would be that the Finance Minister will read out the railway budget instead of the Railway Minister.
"It is a good thing. I have been the Railway Minister and have experienced that the Railway Ministry does not have money for any project of national interest. For example the Ghazipur to Baramulla railway line, whose construction is almost complete, was started by me on 1996 when I was the Railway Minister. Deve Gowda ji was then the Prime Minister. We did not have money for it then. So, we took it from the national budget," Paswan told ANI
"Today, whatever railway projects we have, we require money for that. We only have two ways to acquire money. Either we have to increase the freight fares or the passenger fares. In the end, we have to take money from the Indian Government. So, the Indian Government will now be responsible," he added.
The recommendations by a two-member committee comprising Niti Aayog members Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai put an end to the British-era practice of a separate rail budget that had started in 1924.
"During the British times, the railway budget had more money than the general budget which is not the situation today," Paswan said.
Paswan, however, said the projects will not get completed faster, only the person reading out the budget will change.
"It's not that projects and plans will get implemented as fast as possible. The only difference will be that earlier the Railway Minister used to read out the Rail Budget and now the Finance Minister will read it out," he added.
The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposals of Ministry of Finance on certain landmark budgetary reforms relating to the merger of Railway budget with the General budget, the advancement of the date of Budget presentation from the last day of February and the merger of the Plan and the Non-Plan classification in the Budget and Accounts.
All these changes will be put into effect simultaneously from the Budget 2017-18. (ANI