Curtail foreign travel, practise austerity, PM tells ministers

June 5th, 2008 - 11:00 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 5 (IANS)Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday wrote to all his ministers asking them to practice austerity in their ministries and at all levels of government in the wake of the rise in oil prices and urging them to curtail their air travels, both foreign and within the country. “You are aware of the huge burden imposed on our financial resources due to the continuously rising trend in global oil prices and our dependence on import of crude,” Singh said in his concise letter

“As we initiate steps to meet this resource crunch, it is inevitable that some of the burden would have to be borne by the public. We need to explain to the people the constraints and reasons that have compelled the government to introduce these measures.”

Prime Minister Singh’s letter comes a day after the government hiked petrol and diesel prices by Rs 5 and Rs 3 a litre and that of cooking gas by Rs 50 a cylinder, while sparing the poor man’s cooking medium kerosene from any increase.

The union cabinet took a slew of measures to offset the surging global oil prices that had put the national oil companies under acute pressure.

“Simultaneously, however, it is equally necessary for us to introduce the utmost economy in our own administrations and establishments. It cannot be denied that there is substantial scope to reduce expenditure on travel and administration,” he said.

“As we ask the people to bear some of the financial burden of our oil imports, it is not only necessary from the resource conservation point of view but also as a moral duty to cut out all wasteful expenditure in our own establishments.”

“I am, therefore, 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,” he emphasized.

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

Singh pointed out that instructions would be issued by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekar shortly to introduce more rigorous scrutiny of foreign travel proposals.

“The best prudence can be exercised at your own level with regard to both foreign and local travel for you and your officers. I seek your fullest cooperation in this matter of importance and urgency.”

The Left parties have called a dawn-to-dusk general strike in Tripura, West Bengal and Kerala to protest fuel and cooking gas price hikes.

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