Press Trust of india

No limousine, small guest lists among austerity measures announced by President

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New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday decided to take a 30 per cent salary cut for the whole year besides announcing a slew of other austerity measures to aid the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The domestic tours and programmes of the President will be substantially reduced in order to follow social distancing restrictions and minimise expenditure, according to a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique issued on Thursday.

Instead, the president will largely rely on technology to reach out to people, it said. Usually, the president travels to different parts of the country to attend various official programmes. There are state visits abroad too.

Announcing the several measures, the communique said in the President’s estimation this will be a “small but significant contribution to realise the government’s vision of making India self-reliant (Atmanirbhar) and energise the nation to take up the challenge to fight the pandemic and continue our journey for development and prosperity simultaneously.”

The president gets a monthly salary of Rs five lakh.

It is estimated that these measures will save nearly 20 per cent of the budget of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the current financial year, the statement said.

According to the officials, these measures will result in the saving of around Rs 40-45 crore annually by the Rashtrapati Bhavan which has an yearly budget of more than Rs 200 crore which includes an outlay of Rs 80.98 crore allocated for “staff, household and allowance of the president”.

The consumption during ceremonial occasions such as At-Home ceremonies and state banquets will also be minimised by keeping smaller guest lists, reducing the food menu and lesser usage of flowers and other decorative items, it said.

Kovind has also decided to defer purchase of the Presidential Limousine (at an estimated cost of around Rs 10 crore) which was to be used for ceremonial occasions. “The existing resources of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the government will be shared and used for such occasions,” the communique said.

The repair and maintenance work in the Rashtrapati Bhavan will be minimised to only ensure proper upkeep of assets.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan will not take up any new capital works (building and engineering works) in the current fiscal and only the ongoing works will be completed, it said.

There will be substantial reduction in the use of office consumables and a greater emphasis would be laid on using e-technology to cut down the use of paper to avoid wastage and make the office eco-friendly, the communique said.

“Efforts will be made to save energy and fuel by rationalising their usage,” it said.

As a part of steps to make more resources available for COVID-19 relief measures, Kovind, after contributing one month’s salary to the PM-CARES Fund in March, has decided to forego 30 per cent of his salary for a year, it said.

The president has given instructions to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to set an example by economising the expenditure, making optimal usage of resources, and dovetailing the saved money to combat COVID-19 and mitigate the people’s economic plight, the communique said.

“Meanwhile, it will be ensured that such austerity measures would have no adverse impact on support given to outsourced (or) contractual workers. Other activities taken up by the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the welfare of poor people will not be affected either,” it added.

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