(Pakistan News & Features Services)
A proposal has recently been submitted to Dr Ishrat Husain Sahib, Advisor to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms, Government of Pakistan, for investment in Pakistan Railways through Public Private Partnership.
In view of the deteriorating condition of Pakistan Railways and increasing trend of train accidents the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, had entrusted Dr Ishrat Hussain to devise and prepare a comprehensive restructuring plan to make the organization a profitable department through public-private partnership.
Mir Mohammad Khaskheli, Member, FPCCI Standing Committee on Railways, has submitted a comprehensive paper in this regard, a copy of which was also obtained by PNFS.
The paper gives an insight into the historical background besides critically analyzing the performance and financial aspect of Pakistan Railways. The gist of analysis and recommendations made in the paper are based on in-depth study of 39 years of public sector organizations and input of very senior officers of Pakistan Railways.
In fact, the huge financial deficit had driven the Pakistan Railways to a fatal bankruptcy and government of Pakistan has been further burdened with an additional financial liability.
It has been noted in the paper that the persistent losses incurred incur didn’t arise entirely from any public service function but gross mismanagement, incompetence and political interference also contributed significantly in mounting financial losses and escalating debt.
Mir Mohammad Khaskheli, well versed with the organization’s functions because of his long stint there, reckoned that Pakistan Railways’ ability to transform itself from non-profit making agency of government to a profitable entity depended mainly on its capacity to respond effectively to important structural challenges and the transformation required among other things, a basic change in the driving policy of rail infrastructure and operation.
He regretted that despite of tall claims of improvement in the performance of department by the top management more than 100 train accidents occurred during the year 2019 alone.
“Huge investment is required for the development in rail infrastructure and safety of train operation. This requires complete replacement of existing obsolete signalling and communication system, rehabilitation of old aged bridges, up-gradation and standardization of railway track & rolling stock and invigorating maintenance facilities in major shops/sheds and depots,” he suggested.
“The Government of Pakistan may invite and offer the private sector for the development of railway’s core functions to put the organization on commercially viable footings through public-private partnership,” Mir Mohammad Khaskheli suggested.
“The objective to revive Pakistan Railways under the CPEC-related projects is praiseworthy; yet they can only scratch the surface of the dismal situation of PR which needs both institutional reforms and instrumental investments. On the institutional side one change that should take place is the broader representation in the Railway Board in existence since 1959 and reconstituted in 2015 for more informal decision making,” he continued.
“In addition to the representatives from Ministry of Railways, Communication and Finance; representation from Ministry of Economic Affairs & Statistics, Law & Justice, Planning & Development and FBR is very vital to obtain more significant input and guidance on bilateral, multilateral and technical partnership issues,” he concluded.