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WHILE INDIA BATTLES DRAUGHT AND RECESSION, TRAVELLING EXPENSES OF MINISTERS RUN UP 75%

minister-travel-1Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s bid to persuade his ministerial colleagues to economize on travelling might be more than a politically correct move as India battles drought and a lingering economic slowdown. Air travel – both foreign and domestic, foreign currency expenditure, hotel stays and officials accompanying ministers abroad all add up to hefty bills. An account of ministerial spending shows that 75% of the expenses incurred in 2007-08 were on travel. In 2006-07, tours added up to 67% of expenses and 62% in 2005-06. Tours, rather than salary hikes or other perks, seem to be the key determinant in pushing up the cost of government. Of course, it is not that other expenses are declining or are static. Also, with rising inflation and an expanding agenda, the government may not be guilty of wasteful expenditure, but it is getting more expensive. According to the 2007-08 finance account, the latest available in public domain, the total expenditure by the Union council of ministers was Rs 182 crore. It was Rs 121 crore in 2006-07 and Rs 98 crore in 2005-06. The Prime Minister’s Office spends almost twice the expenditure incurred towards the salary of ministers, allowances and discretionary grants given to them and money spent on international cooperation. The PMO’s expenditure in 2007-08 was Rs 15.66 crore. It was Rs 14.33 crore in 2006-07 and Rs 14.35 crore in 2005-06.

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