The Bangladesh Railway (BR) has cut its annual target of carrying passengers and handling cargo by nearly 50 per cent for the next four years although its capacity for both the services has improved.
According to sources, revision of passenger and cargo-carrying targets has been proposed as the loss-making BR could not meet yearly target of revenue earnings set by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in the past.
Although the BR revised the targets on their own, the MoF, however, sought explanation from the train operator for doing so in a meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting, held among the BR, the MoF and the Planning Commission, asked the railway operator to re-assess the targets of yearly passenger and cargo carrying to improve annual revenue earnings.
Officials said revision of the targets has been proposed considering yearly growth rate of passengers and cargo in the BR since 2006.
"The BR could never meet its yearly targets of carrying passengers and cargo in the past. So revision of these targets has been made to make those realistic and achievable to increase revenue earnings," said an official.
He said these targets are fixed by the MoF taking into account increased budget for a sector for attaining revenue earning target of the highly-subsidised service.
The state-owned train operator has revised the yearly target of passengers to 8.63 per cent against 15.56 per cent for the fiscal year (FY) 2016-17 and proposed to lower the targets to 9.4 per cent in FY 2017-18, to 10.17 per cent in FY 2018-19 and to 10.25 per cent in FY 2019-2020.
The passenger-carrying target was earlier set at 15.56 per cent, 23.27 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.
In case of cargo service, the yearly target for the FY 2016-17 was refixed at 10.71 per cent against 19 per cent which was, however, proposed to be lowered by 70 per cent for the year 2017-18.
According to the official data, the BR remained Tk 710 million to Tk 890 million behind the target of its revenue earnings set by the MoF since FY 2012-13. In the FY 2015-16, its target of revenue earnings was fixed at Tk 12.13 billion but the railway earned Tk 8.75 billion.
In the current fiscal year, the BR has so far earned only Tk 3.68 billion against the target set by the MoF at Tk 1,356 billion.
Though budget for the Ministry of Railway was raised from 50 per cent to 100 per cent since 2009, the officials said, the sector is likely to get around 11 per cent increase in budgets of the next four years till 2020.
They also said a significant portion of the increased budget of the BR has been allotted for Padma Bridge rail link.