Call it a fiscal mess of the state government or intentional delay, the failure of state government to clear the dues of already cash-strapped Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) has added to the woes of PRTC management which is itself struggling to pay pending liabilities of its employees.
As per available information, the state government owes around Rs. 54 crore to PRTC authorities in form of departmental claims and financial assistance to help it make pending payments to pensioners.
PRTC, being a corporation, has been not been provided with a stipulated financial grant and there is no clause to keep a separate budget for it.
Struggling to overcome the increasing losses, PRTC management has been coping hard even to pay monthly pensions and salaries to its employees.
Sources in the PRTC revealed that the state government has not only failed to clear departmental claims worth `5 crore per month for the past three months against free travelling and concession facility, it has not paid pending claims in the past years that are estimated to be Rs. 24 crore.
Besides 18 different beneficiary categories, the police personnel and students are major beneficiaries of free and concessional facility of PRTC.
"If government manages to provide only departmental claims on time, pensions can be released every month on time", said an official
Apart from it, the state government had also decided to provide Rs. 25 crore annually to PRTC especially to make payments of pensioners in March 2013.
However, the announcement has fallen flat in its very first year as the government only managed to provide `10 crore while the remaining `15 crore has been kept pending for the past many months, raising eyebrows over seriousness of state authorities to improve financial conditions.
"The budget kept for clearing PRTC's department claims has been exhausted in October due to which it has not been provided with a single penny since then. The dues will be cleared only after revised budget for the purpose gets clearance from finance department", said one of senior officials, demanding anonymity.
Bhupinder Singh, PRTC managing director, said they have already written to departments concerned to pay installments of their pending departmental claims and finance department to clear Rs. 15 crore of Rs. 25 crore as announced by the state government during the last year's budget session.
"The claims pertaining to the last quarter of 2013 will be cleared in the revised budget, which will help us to pay pensions of the employees. However, we are committed to pay pending liabilities to employees from time to time", he said.
Meanwhile, with no money in its kitty, PRTC management has failed to release pensions of the employees for January month. The unrest among the employees could be witnessed from the protest by employee unions of PRTC on daily basis demanding their pending arrears and payments.
Presently, PRTC has been going through acute financial crisis as it owed around Rs. 143 crore, including pending payments of around Rs. 28 crore of pension commutation, Rs. 48 crore to be deposited in GPF trust, Rs. 22 crore for gratuity, Rs. 23 crore for GPF to be given to employees, Rs. 8 crore against pending leave encashment cases and over Rs. 1 crore for reimbursement of medical bills.