BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Ministry of Railways suffered an after-tax loss of 8.8 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) in the first half of 2012 as it struggles to cope with rising operating costs and mounting debts, local media reported on Saturday.
The ministry’s debt-to-assets ratio climbed to 61 percent at the end of June, Chinese financial magazine Caijing said in a report on its website, citing official figures.
The ministry’s loss in the first half compared to its annual profits of 31 million yuan in 2011 and 15 million yuan in 2010, the report said.
Its costs were 421.5 billion yuan in the first half of 2012 compared to 728.2 billion yuan in the whole of 2011.
The ministry raised 310.8 billion yuan, mainly through bank loans and bond issues, during the January-June period, trailing behind the 967.4 billion yuan it raised in the whole of 2011, it added.
The ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.
Beijing has announced steps to open up the vast rail sector to private investors as rail investment slowed sharply in 2011 after a fatal crash and the firing of the minister and some of the ministry’s senior staff.
Chinese leaders have pledged to jump start railway spending as the country’ economic growth slowed to 7.6 percent in the second quarter, its slowest quarterly pace in more than three years.
($1 = 6.3484 Chinese yuan)
Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Mark Potter