Austerity drive: another minister cancels US trip

June 7th, 2008 - 5:41 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) One more minister has heeded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s advice to practise austerity. Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, who was expected to leave for the US Wednesday, called off his trip Saturday. Ravi, who was expected to attend Indian community meetings in Minneapolis and then go to Vancouver in Canada, has taken a decision to cancel the nine-day tour, his office said.

Ravi, who is also parliamentary affairs minister, returned Friday from the Netherlands where he was pursuing a bilateral agreement on labour and social policy.

Four cabinet ministers - P. Chidambaram, T.R. Baalu, Murli Deora and Ambika Soni - have cancelled their proposed foreign visits recently, though Chidambaram and Deora have said they had taken their decisions before Manmohan Singh advised his cabinet colleagues to curtail expenditure on air travel as a part of austerity measures in the wake of an oil price hike.

Chidambaram and Soni were also expected to leave for the US.

The prime minister wrote the letter Thursday, a day after the government hiked petrol and diesel prices by Rs.5 and Rs.3 a litre respectively and of cooking gas by Rs.50 a cylinder, to bail out oil firms hit by spiralling global crude prices.

In his letter, he said: “I am writing to ask you to severely curtail expenditure on air travel, particularly foreign travel, except in cases where it is deemed to be absolutely necessary.

“This economy may be made applicable immediately for your own self and also for all senior functionaries in your ministry.”

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