New Delhi: The government has asked ministers and government officials to cut expenses by 10% to redirect resources to “priority schemes”.
A four-page note from the head of the finance ministry’s expenditure department also advised them to avoid first-class air travel, laying out austerity measures for a year. “A mandatory 10% cut in all our expenses—in domestic/foreign trips, publications, professional services, advertisement/publicity, office expenses and other administrative expenses—is advised,” said a minister who didn’t want to be named. The note asked government departments to “discourage” the holding of exhibitions and seminars abroad “except for trade promotions”. Seminars in five star hotels are also prohibited under the new directions. “No new vehicles are allowed to be purchased except for defence,” the minister added.
Foreign minister S.M. Krishna and Shashi Tharoor, his minister of state, were recently asked to move out five star hotels where they were staying pending renovations at their official residences. Both ministers said they were paying the hotel bills themselves and the government wasn’t picking up the tab.
Last month, at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee meeting on drought, Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked ministers and legislators to donate 20% of their salary for drought relief measures to their respective state governments. A cabinet minister and a minister of state belonging to one of the ruling coalition allies objected to some of the austerity measures, prompting Mukherjee to say these wouldn’t apply to non-Congress ministers.