A day after Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the merger of General and railway budgets, Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the merger will create more bureaucratic hurdles for the rail ministry as it would strip it off its financial autonomy.
"Merging the general budget with the railway budget, in my personal opinion is not good, because for everything the railway department will have to go and stand before the finance department. Even in urgent matters also, they will have to seek the permission of finance department. So, there is no autonomy of finance. Due to this, the railways will be stuck, and the railways is a sensitive department which carries every day more than two to three crore passengers and provides great benefit to the poor," Kharge told ANI.
He also pointed out that the merger will lead to red tapism and will hit development of the railway network.
"I am also confident that this government will try to decentralise the railways and will invite private players to run the railway network by citing efficiency issues," Kharge said.
He said the railway budget must be kept separate in the interest of its development and to facilitate quick decision making.
"Rail budget and General budget will be amalgamated from now, there will only be one budget," said Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while addressing a press conference on 21 September.
"However its functional autonomy will continue to be maintained," he added.
The finance ministry had proposed that the budget be presented on February 1 as opposed to the current practice of the last working day of February, allowing the process to be completed before the new financial year begins.