PM asks ministers to practice austerity

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New Delhi, June 5: In a strongly-worded letter to all his Ministers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked them and their officials to enforce austerity measures and ''severely curtail'' expenditure on air travel, particularly foreign travel.

Dr Singh said this was necessary in view of the spiralling oil prices in the global market which forced the government to hike the retail rates of petrol, diesel and LPG yesterday. While initiating steps to meet the oil crunch, it was inevitable that some of the burden would have to be borne by the public. There was need to explain to the people the constraints and reasons that compelled the Government to introduce these measures.

''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.

''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,'' he said.

He said there was need to severely curtail expenditure on air travel, particularly foreign travel, except in cases where it was 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.'' While instructions would be issued to the Cabinet Secretary 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 them and their officers, the Prime Minister told the Ministers, seeking their cooperation in this matter of ''importance and urgency.''


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