BEST budget estimates show deficit of Rs 2000 cr, no change in fare till 2021
The budget estimates show the total earnings for the undertaking will be Rs 5,558.91 crore and expenditure will be Rs 7,808.65 crore while BEST had a deficit budget of Rs 380.37 crore in the financial year of 2018-19.Updated: Oct 30, 2019 08:03 IST
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) on Tuesday presented its budget estimates for 2020-21, showing a revenue deficit of Rs 2,249.74 crore, thrice the amount in the current financial year. According to revised estimates for 2019-20, there will be a Rs 729.14-crore deficit. However, despite huge losses, a fare revision has not been proposed in the estimates.
The budget estimates show the total earnings for the undertaking will be Rs 5,558.91 crore and expenditure will be Rs 7,808.65 crore. In the financial year 2018-19, BEST had a deficit budget of Rs 380.37 crore.
Surendrakumar Bagde, general manager of BEST, said, “The deficit is a result of viability gap funding for losses, which will go over ₹1000 crore for the large number of buses that are being inducted. We have signed a new wage agreement this year. Moreover, we have reduced our fares and have lower power tariffs.”
Reducing the fares of AC and non-AC buses to Rs 5-25 has increased the daily commuters by 12 lakh, but reduced the earnings by more than Rs 30 lakh.
According to the budget document, during the current financial year, the BMC has given a grant of Rs 1,905.98 crore, of which Rs 769.68 crore is towards the deficit for 2019-20, and the remaining Rs 1136.30 crore for repayment of short-term loans.
In the budget tabled before the BEST committee, the policy-making body of the undertaking has projected Rs 99.73 crore surplus from the electricity division and Rs 2349.47 crore earning in 2020-21. BEST administration said the power tariffs will be increased, as per the directives of MERC.
The BEST committee will discuss and may approve the budget next month. It will then be sent to the BMC, the parent body of the undertaking, for final approval.
“The administration should have given a detailed note on reasons for the three-fold rise in the deficit from Rs 730 crore in 2019-20, along with the various measures taken by BEST to improve the financial situation, while tabling the budget in front of the committee,” said Sunil Ganacharya, senior BJP member.
By March 2020, BEST plans to purchase 244 buses to maintain its fleet size at 3,337, according to the Memorandum of Understanding signed with a labour union earlier this year. Also, it will have to buy 896 buses in 2020-21, as a similar number is proposed to be scrapped. According to BEST’s plans, they plan to add 1,340 buses under the same model in 2020-21 and the fleet strength of BEST is projected to be 6,467 by March 2021. A total of 1,790 buses will be hired under the gross cost contract or wet lease model by March 31, 2020. BEST has also proposed development of various web applications.
Meanwhile, the BEST committee on Tuesday approved a proposal to give Rs 9100 ex-gratia payment to over 30,000 BEST employees. BEST committee chairman Anil Patankar directed the administration to transfer the amount to employees’ account within 48 hours