Austerity Drive: No 5-Star Seminars, 1st Class Air Travel

New Delhi, Oct 30: In a significant move, the Union government has barred the bureaucrats from travelling First Class on overseas visits to cut non-plan expenditure by 10%. They have been asked to use video conferencing as much as possible instead of visiting the places.

The government on Thursday announced several austerity measures, which ban Babus from holding meetings in five-star hotels and traveling in first class of airlines.

The measure also put a ban on the fresh appointments and creation of news posts in the government.

The finance ministry informed that the measures would include a 10 percent cut in non-plan or discretionary expenditure. However, it would not affect interest and debt payments, salaries, pensions or defence budget, the ministry said.

"Such measures are intended at promoting fiscal discipline, without restricting the operational efficiency of the government. In the context of the current fiscal situation, there is a need to continue to rationalise expenditure and optimise available resources, a finance ministry statement said.

The Finance Ministry said purchase of new vehicles to meet operational requirement of defence forces, Paramilitary forces and security organisations are permitted but ban on purchase of any other vehicles would continue.

The government proposes to lower the fiscal deficit to 3%t of GDP by 2016-17. The deficit which had touched a high of 5.7% in 2011-12, was brought down to 4.8% in 2012-13 and further to 4.5% in 2013-14 by way of austerity measures.

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