The government on Wednesday approved the grant of one-time cash assistance of Rs48 billion to 4 million poorest people but rejected the demand for an Rs10 billion bailout package for paying pensions to Pakistan Railways employees due to fiscal constraints.
The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, which took these decisions, deferred the approval of a summary that sought Rs5.5 billion in the supplementary budget to continue subsidies on five essential items at utility stores to ease the impact of skyrocketing prices.
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan chaired the ECC meeting and endorsed the decisions referred to him by the finance adviser-led sub-committee of the ECC.
The ECC rejected a summary of the Pakistan Railways that sought a bailout package of Rs9.93 billion for clearing the outstanding pension liabilities including the prime minister’s assistance package for the families of deceased employees, said an official after the meeting.
Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin said in the meeting that the government’s priority was to revive the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme and at this stage it could not afford to dole out money to the Pakistan Railways.
Railway authorities pleaded that the entity was facing difficulties in paying salaries, regular monthly pensions, meeting cost of fuel and maintenance and other operational needs.
They added that the railway was unable to settle the dues of retired employees and widows of deceased persons, which had been pending for a long time.
They said that courts had been sending notices to clear the dues and the matter could be taken up anytime by the Supreme Court.
In the budget, the government had approved a Rs42 billion grant-in-aid to pay pensions in the current fiscal year.