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The Budget – What’s in store for the Railways this year?

March 15th, 2012 1 comment

The Minister of Railways, Dinesh Trivedi, presented the Railways Budget 2012 to Parliament on 14th March.  While commenting on the financial position of Railways, the Minister said that ‘the Indian Railways are passing through a difficult phase’. The Operating Ratio for the closing year is now estimated to equal 95%. This is significantly higher than the 91.1% figure budgeted last year.

Operating Ratio is a metric that compares operating expenses to revenues. A higher ratio indicates lower ability to generate surplus.

Surplus is used for capital investments such as laying of new lines, deploying more coaches etc. Therefore, a smaller surplus affects the Railway’s capability to make such investments.

Budget v/s Revised estimates 2011-12

Budget 2011-12 had estimated the performance of Railways for the financial year. Revised estimates have now been submitted. Taken together, these two figures help in comparing actual performance against targets. Some observations are enumerated below:

  • Total receipts decreased by Rs 2,746 crore.
  • Total expenditure increased by Rs 2,102 crore.
  • Operating Ratio increased from 91.1% to 95%. This implies a decrease in surplus.
  • Appropriations to the ‘Development Fund’ and the ‘Capital Fund’ decreased from Rs 5,258 crore to Rs 1,492 crore (a decrease of 72%). The ‘Development Fund’ finances expenditure such as passenger amenities; the ‘Capital Fund’ is used for capital augmentation such as laying of new lines.

Budget estimates 2012-13

In 2012-13, Railways plan to improve Operating Ratio to 84.9% and to increase surplus to Rs 15,557 crore. This is more than 10 times the surplus generated in 2011-12 (Revised Estimates).

The effective increase in freight rates is estimated to average 23%. During this time, passenger fares are also estimated to increase by an effective average rate of 19%. [1]

Infrastructure

Performance during the 11th Plan

Under the 11th Five Year Plan, the total plan expenditure for Railways had been approved at Rs 2,33,289 crore.

The Outcome Budget shows that the actual expenditure is only likely to be Rs 1,92,291 crore. Thus, expenditure will fall short by Rs 40,998 crore. This gaps exists despite a significant increase in the Gross Budgetary Support approved by Parliament.

Plan expenditure during 2007-12 (In Rs Crore)

Approved Expenditure

Actual Expenditure

Gross Budgetary Support

63,635

75,979

Internal Resources

90,000

67,763

Extra Budgetary Support

79,654

48,549

Total

2,33,289

1,92,291

The Standing Committee on Railways, in its 11th report presented in August 2011, had sought an explanation from the Ministry.

According to the Ministry, lower mobilization of internal resources and lack of extra budgetary support are the main reasons for the shortfall.  Internal resource mobilization has been low because of (i) impact of the 6th Pay Commission; and (ii) slow growth in freight earnings due to the economic slowdown. Extra budgetary resources have been low due to non-materialization of funds through the Public-Private Partnership route.

Proposals for the 12th Plan

Two recent committees – Kakodkar Committee on Railway Safety and the Pitroda Committee on Railway Modernization – have called for large investments in the next five years. The Kakodkar Committee has recommended an investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore in the next five years to improve safety; the Pitroda Committee has recommended an expenditure of Rs 3,96,000 crore in the next five years on modernization.

The Railway sub-group of the 12th Five Year Plan has also estimated a requirement of Rs 4,42,744 crore for various other investments proposed to be undertaken during the Plan period. [2]

All three groups have called for significant investments in infrastructure augmentation in the next five years.

Budget proposals 2012-13

According to the Minister’s speech, the Annual Plan outlay for the year 2012-13 has been set at Rs 60,100 crore. The plan would be financed through:

  • Gross Budgetary Support of Rs 24,000 crore
  • Railway Safety Fund of Rs 2,000 crore
  • Internal Resources of Rs 18,050 crore
  • Extra Budgetary Resources of Rs 16,050 crore. Of this, Rs 15,000 crore would be borrowed from the market through IRFC (Indian Railway Finance Corporation).

What happens now?

The Budget is likely to be discussed in the two Houses within the next few days.  Post the discussion, the Ministry’s proposals will be put to vote.  Once passed, the Ministry can put its proposals into action.

For more details on the Railway Budget, including the projects proposed this year and the status of proposals made last year, please see our analysis here.

To understand some of the challenges faced by the Indian Railways, see our blog post from last year.

Notes:

[1] The ‘effective average fare’ has been calculated by dividing the total income from the segment (freight/ passenger) by the total traffic (in NTKM/ PKM).  This would vary with changes in fares as well as the usage by different categories of users (including the proportion of tickets booked through Tatkal).

[2] Source: Report of the Expert Group on Railway Modernization (Chairman: Sam Pitroda)

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Summary of the President’s Address to Parliament, 2012

March 12th, 2012 1 comment

The President addressed the Parliament on 12 March 2012.  Below are some items from the agenda of the central government as outlined in the speech.

Legislation

  • A Bill to eliminate manual scavenging and insanitary latrines shall be introduced in Parliament.
  • New legislation is being considered for persons with disabilities, in order to replace the existing Act.
  • A Bill to provide for a uniform regulatory environment to protect consumer interests, enable speedy adjudication and ensure growth of the real estate sector shall be introduced.
  • A Bill to create a Civil Aviation Authority to ensure safe and affordable air services will be introduced this year.
  • The government is working on legislation for safeguarding and promoting the livelihoods of street vendors.
  • Amendments shall be made to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act to prohibit employment of children less than 14 years of age.
  • Government will aim for early enactment of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill.

Workforce Development

  • 1500 new Industrial Training Institutes and 5000 Skill Development Centres shall be set up.  Skill training will be provided to 85 lakh people during 2012-13 and to 800 lakh people during the 12th Plan.
  • A National Mission for Teachers shall be established to improve teacher education and faculty development .
  • The National Urban Livelihoods Mission shall be launched for large-scale skill upgradation, entrepreneurship development and providing wage employment and self-employment opportunities.
  • The expenditure on Research & Development shall be increased from 1 percent to 2 percent of GDP.
  • A Higher Education Credit Guarantee Authority shall be set up in order to provide limited credit guarantees through risk pooling for educational loans.

Health

  • The government will increase national Plan and Non-Plan public expenditure on health to 2.5 percent of GDP by the end of the 12th Plan.
  • The National Rural Health Mission will be converted to a National Health Mission during the 12th Plan, which will also cover urban areas.  Around 7 crore families will be provided health insurance cover under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana by the end of the 12th Plan.
  • A Multi-sectoral Nutrition Programme will be launched in 200 districts for maternal and child nutrition needs.
  • A Department for Disability Affairs and the National Council for Senior Citizens shall be set up.

Economy

  • Steps will be taken to reduce the gap of 10 million hectares between irrigation potential created and realized.
  • A scheme for Minimum Support Price for minor forest produce is being considered.
  • A roadmap to double merchandise exports to US$ 500 billion by 2013-14 has been prepared.
  • Public sector banks shall be recapitalized to maintain their financial health.
  • A scheme for promotion of the capital goods industry will be launched during the 12th Plan.
  • Rs 17,500 crore shall be provided to the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor for infrastructure projects.
  • The National Electricity Fund shall be set up to provide interest subsidy on loans disbursed to State Power Utilities.
  • Installed capacity of nuclear plants shall be increased to 10,080 MW from 4,780 MW by the end of the 12th Plan.

 

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President’s Addresses to Parliament since the beginning of UPA II

March 12th, 2012 No comments

The President addressed the Parliament after the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections on 4th June 2009.  She also addressed Parliament on 22nd February 2010, as well as on 21st February 2011.  The tables below highlight some items from the agenda of the central government as outlined in these speeches, as well as the initiatives undertaken with respect to these agenda items.

Table 1: Some Items from the President’s Address to Parliament on 4th June 2009

Agenda Items outlined in the President’s Speech Current Status
Establishment of National Counter-Terrorism Centre Proposed launch of NCTC in March 2011 on hold
Enactment of legislation for prevention of communal violence Communal Violence Bill 2005 pending in Parliament. New bill drafted by NAC but not introduced in Parliament
Unique Identity Card scheme to be implemented in three years Unique Identification Authority of India created under Planning Commission on 28 January 2009.  Bill to give statutory status pending in Parliament
Establishment of a regulator for the pension sector Bill introduced in Lok Sabha on 24 March 2011
Convergence of NREGA with other programs; expansion of works permitted; independent monitoring and grievance redressal
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana to cover all families below the poverty line in five years
Enactment of Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill Bill passed in 2009 and brought into force on 1 April 2009
Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan to universalize access to secondary education Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan launched in March 2009
National Mission for Female Literacy to make every woman literate in five years National Literacy Mission recast in 2009 to focus on female literacy
Construction of 1.2 crore rural houses under Indira Awas Yojana in five years
Introduction of Rajiv Awas Yojana for slum dwellers and urban poor Phase I approved by Cabinet on 2 June 2011
Enactment of National Food Security Act Introduced in Lok Sabha on 22 December 2011
Enactment of Amendment Bill to Land Acquisition Act and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011 introduced in Lok Sabha on 7 September 2011
Enactment of Women’s Reservation Bill Passed by Rajya Sabha, pending in Lok Sabha
Constitutional Amendment for 50 percent reservation for women in panchayats and urban local bodies Two Bills introduced in Lok Sabha in November 2009; both pending in Parliament
Amendment of RTI to provide for disclosure by government in all non-strategic areas
Model Public Services Law to be drawn up in consultation with states Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievance Bill,     2011 introduced in Lok Sabha on 20 December 2011
Introduction of Goods and Services Tax Constitutional Amendment Bill introduced in Lok Sabha on 22 March 2011
National Council for Human Resources in Health Introduced in Rajya Sabha on 22 December 2011
National Council for Higher Education Bill introduced in Rajya Sabha on 28 December 2011

*Note: Blank cells indicate that PRS has not been able to find official information in the public domain.

Table 2: Some Items from the President’s speech to Parliament on 22nd February 2010

Agenda Items outlined in the President’s Speech Current Status
Introduction of legislation to ensure food security Introduced in Lok Sabha on 22 December 2011
Rural teledensity of 40 percent by 2014 Rural teledensity of 33% as of February 2011
Introduction of Rajiv Awas Yojana for urban poor and slum dwellers Phase I approved by Cabinet on 2 June 2011
Disposal of remaining claims under the Scheduled Tribes  and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act
Introduction of amendment to the Wakf Act Passed by Lok Sabha; pending in Rajya Sabha
Enactment of Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005 Pending in Rajya Sabha since 2005
Enactment of Women’s Reservation Bill Passed by Rajya Sabha; pending in Lok Sabha
Constitutional amendments for 50 percent reservation for women in panchayats and urban local bodies Two Bills introduced in Lok Sabha in November 2009; both pending in Parliament
Establishment of National Council for Higher Education and Research Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011 introduced in Rajya Sabha on 28 December 2011
Legislation for facilitating participation of foreign academic institutions in the education sector Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, 2010 introduced in Lok Sabha on 3 May 2010
Voting rights for Indian citizens living abroad Bill passed.  NRIs can vote at the place of residence that is mentioned in their passport

Table 3: Some Items from the President’s speech to Parliament on 21st February 2011

Agenda Items outlined in the President’s Speech Current Status
Enactment of Food Security Law Introduced in Lok Sabha on 22 December 2011
Whistleblower Bill Bill passed by Lok Sabha; pending in Rajya Sabha
Enactment of Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill Introduced in Lok Sabha on 1 December 2010
Enactment of new Mines and Minerals Bill Introduced in Lok Sabha on 12 December 2011
Rural teledensity of 40 percent by 2014 Rural teledensity of 33% as of February 2011
Construction of 1.2 crore rural houses during 2009-14
Enactment of Women’s Reservation Bill Passed by Rajya Sabha; pending in Lok Sabha
Introduction of Bill regarding protection of children from sexual offences Introduced in Rajya Sabha on 23 March 2011
Introduction of Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill Not introduced till date
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Scenarios for upcoming Rajya Sabha, Presidential and VP elections

March 7th, 2012 No comments

Several Rajya Sabha seats go to elections this year. The President and the Vice-President are also due to be elected by August. We analyse the impact of the recent State Assembly elections on the composition of the Rajya Sabha and the outcome of the Presidential polls.

Rajya Sabha – How will its composition change?

Since Rajya Sabha members are elected by the elected members of State Legislative Assemblies, a change in the composition of State Assemblies can affect the composition of Rajya Sabha.  A total of 61 Rajya Sabha seats are up for election in April and July.  This includes 10 seats from Uttar Pradesh and 1 seat from Uttarakhand.

In light of the recent Assembly elections, we work out two scenarios to estimate the composition of Rajya Sabha in 2012.

Members of Rajya Sabha are elected through the system of proportional representation by means of the Single Transferable Vote (STV). In an STV election, a candidate is required to achieve a certain minimum number of votes (called the ‘quota’) to be elected.  (For more details on the STV system, click here)

For instance, in the case of Uttar Pradesh (UP) 10 Rajya Sabha seats go to election this year.  Candidates will be elected to these 10 seats by the 403 elected MLAs of the Uttar Pradesh State Assembly.  Each MLA will rank the candidates based on his/ her preference. After successive rounds of elimination, candidates who are able to secure at least 37  {or 403/(10+1) } votes will be declared elected.

In the new UP Assembly, Samajwadi  Party (SP) has a total strength of 224 members. As a result, SP can elect at least 6 (or 224/37) Rajya Sabha MPs of its choice.  BSP’s strength of 80 will allow it to elect 2 (or 80/37) MPs to Rajya Sabha. Similarily, the BJP with a strength of 47 MLAs can have one candidate of its choice elected to the Rajya Sabha.  This leaves 1 seat.  The fate of this seat depends on the alliances that may be formed since no other party in UP has 37 or more seats in the Assembly.  If the Congress (28 seats) and RLD (9 seats) join hands, they may be able to elect a candidate of their choice.

We build two scenarios which give the likely range of seats for the major coalitions and parties. The actual result will likely fall between these scenarios, depending on alliances for each election.

Of the two scenarios, Scenario II is better for the UPA. It is based on the assumption that the UPA is able to put together the necessary support/ alliances to get its candidates elected to seats with indeterminate status.  Scenario I is based on the assumption that the UPA is not able to put together the required support. As a result, the seats in question get allocated to candidates from other parties/ coalitions. (See Notes for the composition of the coalitions)

Composition of Rajya Sabha

Party/ Coalition Current composition Scenario I Scenario II
Total seats

245

245

245

UPA

93

95

98

NDA

66

67

65

Left

19

14

14

BSP

18

15

15

SP

5

9

9

BJD

6

8

7

AIADMK

5

5

5

Nominated

7

12

12

Others

21

20

20

Vacant

5

0

0

It appears that there would not be a major change in the composition of the Rajya Sabha.

Which party’s candidate is likely to become the next President?

The next Presidential election will be held in June or July.  The electoral college for the Presidential election consists of the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and all Legislative Assemblies. Each MP/ MLA’s vote has a pre-determined value based on the population they represent. For instance, an MP’s vote has a value of 708, an MLA from UP has a vote value of 208 and an MLA from Sikkim has a vote value of 7. (Note that all MPs, irrespective of the constituency or State they represent, have equal vote value)

As is evident, changes in the composition of Assemblies in larger States such as UP can have a major impact on the outcome of the Presidential election.

The elections to the office of the President are held through the system of proportional representation by means of STV (same as in the case of Rajya Sabha).  The winning candidate must secure at least 50% of the total value of votes polled.  (For details, refer to this Election Commission document).

By this calculation, a candidate will need at least 5,48,507 votes to be elected as the President. If the UPA were to vote as a consolidated block, its vote tally would reach 4,50,555 votes under Scenario II (the one that is favourable for the UPA).  Therefore, the UPA will have to seek alliances if it wants a candidate of its choice to be elected to the office of the President.

Scenarios for Presidential elections

(figures represent the value of votes available with each party/ coalition)

Party/ Coalition Scenario I Scenario II
UPA

4,48,431

4,50,555

NDA

3,05,328

3,03,912

Left

51,574

51,574

BSP

43,723

43,723

SP

69,651

69,651

BJD

30,923

30,215

AIADMK

36,216

36,216

Others

1,11,166

1,11,166

Total

10,97,012

10,97,012

Minimum required to be elected

5,48,507

5,48,507

What about the Vice-President?

Elections to the office of the Vice-President (VP) will be held in July or August.  The electoral college will consist of all members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha (i.e. both elected and nominated). Unlike the Presidential elections, all votes will have an equal value of one.

Like the President, the VP is also elected through the system of proportional representation by means of STV.  The winning candidate must secure at least 50% of the total value of votes polled.

Presently, two seats are vacant in the Lok Sabha. If we exclude these from our analysis, we find that a candidate will need at least 395 votes to be elected as the VP.  Under our best case scenario, the UPA holds 363 votes in the forthcoming VP elections.

As is the case with Presidential elections, the UPA will have to seek alliances to get a candidate of its choice elected to the office of the Vice-President.

Scenarios for VP elections

(figures represent the value of votes available with each party/ coalition)

Party/ Coalition

Scenario I

Scenario II

UPA

360

363

NDA

216

214

Left

38

38

BSP

36

36

SP

31

31

BJD

22

21

AIADMK

14

14

Nominated

14

14

Others

57

57

Total

788

788

Minimum required to be elected

395

395

Notes:

[1] UPA: Congress, Trinamool, DMK, NCP,Rashtriya Lok Dal, J&K National Conference, Muslim League Kerala State Committee, Kerala Congress (M), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Sikkim Democratic Front, Praja Rajyam Party, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi

[2] NDA: BJP, JD(U), Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal

[3] Left: CPI(M), CPI, Revolutionary Socialist Party,All India Forward Bloc