Finance Min unveils list of "unpopular" austerity measures

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Pranab Mukherjee
New Delhi, May 18: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has finally revealed his list of “unpopular” austerity measures, a day after he announced in Parliament that India will have to tighten its belt to come out of its grim fiscal situation. Revealing the list, Pranab said that there will be a ban on the purchase of new vehicles by the government departments. There will also be a curb on foreign trips by government officials.

The Finance Minister stated that new cars will be acquired for only defence and security purposes. There will also be restrictions on government meetings and conferences in 5-star hotels in a move to cut costs. The budget for such seminars and workshops will see a 10 per cent cut in budget.

Apart from this, Pranab also proposed to have a cut on the subsidy expenditure by 1.75 per cent of the GDP in 3 years. He stated that the measures were issued last year and are being renewed now.

It is worth mentioning now that recently Home Minister P Chidambaram and the Home Secretary purchased new official cars for their use.

On Wednesday, Pranab commented during the course of discussion on the Finance Bill, “This is a difficult world, international situation is difficult. Country after country is facing major economic crisis. …somebody has pointed...that I am going to take a little bit of unpopular steps. I am going to issue some austerity measures.”

He also added then jokingly, “At one point of time not long ago, my ministerial colleagues, particularly, those who are tall and high, became very angry with me when I said you will have to travel in the normal class, 'Y' class, not 'J' class. They said there is no adequate leg space". On the austerity measures to be announced, he had said, “atmosphere can be not merely words but by our joint action...We are pursuing (reforms in direct and indirect taxes)".

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