Austerity measures: Govt of India

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Austerity: travel

The Times of India

Austere travel saves govt Rs 64cr

Total Spend On Ministers In 2009-10 Rs 167cr Against Allocation Of Rs 230cr

Pradeep Thakur | TNN

New Delhi: Ministers may have resented flying cattle class in the recession-hit times, but the curbs imposed on their first-class travel significantly brought down the travel bill of the government.

Though the Union account for the 2009-10 fiscal will take at least a year to complete, preliminary estimates made by the finance ministry show the expenditure on account of tour and travel by the council of ministers has come down by at least 40%, and the total expenditure of the ministers by 27%.

Against an allocation of Rs 160 crore in the 2009-10 Budget towards tour, the revised estimates (as per Budget 2011) shows the expenses have come down to Rs 96 crore — 40% less than what was estimated. This is impressive considering that the UPA ministers had in the previous two years, 2008-09 and 2007-08, spent Rs 160 crore and Rs 139 crore, respectively, on tours alone. Tour expenses were 30% less than 2007-08.

As per the revised Budget estimates, the total expenditure of the entire council of ministers — that includes the salaries of ministers, tour expenses, allowances, expenditure of the Cabinet Secretariat, the National Security Council Secretariat, office of the principal scientific adviser and the PMO — has come down to Rs 167 crore in 2009-10 against the BE of Rs 230 crore, which is 27% less than the original allocation and 25% less than the Rs 224 crore spent in the previous year (2008-09).

The trend witnessed in the just concluded fiscal was not the same in any previous year. For 2007-08, the government had allocated Rs 75 crore towards tour expenses of the council of ministers in the Budget while a provision of Rs 123 crore was made for total expenditure. However, the actual expenditure as per the Union finance account showed the government went out to spend Rs 138 crore towards travel — 84% higher than the original allocation — and Rs 182 crore total expenditure. The increase in total expenditure was 48%.

The Union finance account for 2008-09 is yet to be finalized. However, the revised estimates of that year show that against an allocation of Rs 210 crore, the total expenditure of the council of ministers at the end of the year was Rs 224 crore, 6% higher. The total expenditure of the government has been steadily increasing over the years barring the 2009-10 fiscal. According to the 2007-08 finance account, the net total expenditure by the council of ministers was Rs 182 crore. It was Rs 121 crore in 2006-07 and Rs 98 crore in 2005-06.

Of this, the expenditure towards tours alone was Rs 138 crore in 2007-08, Rs 82 crore in 2006-07 and Rs 61 crore in 2005-06. The salary of the council of ministers was a paltry Rs 1.75 crore, Rs 1.54 crore and Rs 1.20 crore respectively in these years.

Surprisingly, the Prime Minister’s Office spends almost twice the expenditure incurred on salary of ministers, allowances and discretionary grant given to them and on international cooperation. The PMO’s expenditure in 2009-10 was Rs 24 crore and Rs 23 crore in 2008-09. In 2007-08, it was Rs 15.66 crore, Rs 14.33 crore in 2006-07 and Rs 14.35 crore in 2005-06.

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