Government’s austerity measure scuttles Aiyer’s foreign trip

June 6th, 2008 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) Mani Shankar Aiyer has become the first minister to be affected by the government’s austerity measures, announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Aiyer, who was scheduled to go on a 13-day trip to the US and Norway, was asked at the last moment to cancel his visit. Panchayati Raj Minister Aiyer was expected to begin his trip May 31. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) directive, however, came on May 30, a week before Manmohan Singh wrote to his ministerial colleagues in the wake of the fuel price hikes, asking them to cut down their foreign visits, except those that are absolutely essential.

“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 establishments,” he reportedly said in his letter to the ministers.

Congress sources said Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s proposed visit to Stanford University has also been cancelled.

As part of the austerity measure, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi has reportedly asked his staff to book him in economy class for all domestic flights.

The prime minister’s disapproval of foreign trips came at a time when Commerce Minister Kamal Nath is in Paris for WTO talks and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar is in Rome for the UN food summit. Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi is also in the Netherlands, where he is pursuing the bilateral social security agreement on labour and social policy.

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