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July 25, 2018

Can’t understand how the country is being run: CJP

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July 25, 2018

LAHORE: An audit report of the Pakistan Railways submitted before the Supreme Court on Tuesday made stunning revelations about financial position of the department and severe financial limitations and constraints being faced after its losses went up to Rs155 billion in the last five years, much higher than its revenue.

The forensic audit report was submitted by the court-appointed AF Ferguson and Co to the three-judge bench which resumed the hearing of the case pertaining to monetary losses suffered by the vital service. The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar, remarked that it was inconceivable how the country is being run with malfunctioning state institutions.

The report showed that the Railways incurred losses to the tune of Rs30 billion during the financial year 2012-13, Rs32 billion in 2013-14, Rs27 billion in 2014-15, Rs26 billion in 2015-16 and Rs40 billion in 2016-17. While the revenue made by the railways for the same period was Rs18 billion, Rs22 billion, Rs31 billion and Rs36 billion and Rs40 billion respectively.

The CJP had ordered the audit during a hearing in April last when former minister for railways Khawaja Saad Rafique was present in the court. The report said during the five years, the increase in revenues was offset by the huge jump in expenditure and the loss worsened from Rs30 billion in 2012-13 to Rs40 billion in 2016-17.

“It is our view that an annual loss in excess of Rs40 billion is not sustainable,” the audit firm said in its report. The report further revealed that the 70 per cent of the revenue was used for the payment of pension to the retired employees.

It said the Railways is working under constraints including quality and age of tracks, quality and age of locomotives, coaches and quality and efficacy of the telecommunication system. It said the Railways in its present form will face challenges to sustainably deliver its service and match increasing costs. “It is essential that the organisation be run with proper planning and in an efficient manner to ensure financial support is minimised and operations are sustainable,” the report said and added the present situation of the railways is the result of poor planning over the last 70 years, however, no effective planning to lift the department was seen during the last five years,” it added.

Chief Justice Nisar expressed serious concern over the revelations in the audit report and directed the railways secretary, present in the court, to file a rejoinder to the report. The chief justice also summoned 'Chanay Wala' (Saad Rafiq) on the next hearing.

While issuing a notice to the Ministry of Railways, the CJP sought a rejoinder from relevant authorities. “The report was to be presented without any pressure,” he remarked and then asked whether the ministry had performed in a satisfactory manner during the last five years.

“The report is not good,” the auditor replied. When asked whether the past five years were the most damaging for the sector, the auditor said problems had existed for the last 70 years, but no attempts were made to resolve the various issues plaguing the service. Out of 500 railway stations, only 50 are computerised and have digital records.

The top judge remarked that it is the irresponsible attitude and delay in the completion of projects which caused fundamental losses. “The double-track plan has been delayed for the last four years.” Justice Nisar then directed the auditor to add recommendations to the report and submit them.

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