Austerity drive figures in cabinet meet, questions raised | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Austerity drive figures in cabinet meet, questions raised

delhi Updated: Sep 10, 2009 21:43 IST

Questions were raised at the union cabinet meeting about the government's austerity measures in view of drought in several parts of the country.

Clarifications were sought on how to go about enforcing the austerity as the issue came up for an impromptu discussion at the cabinet meeting presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Cabinet sources said Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar sought to know what sort of reception he should organise for his foreign counterpart, who had hosted him some time back, on an official visit here.

Another minister pointed out that the External Affairs Minister and the Commerce Minister travel abroad frequently on official business, suggesting that there should be laxity in austerity guidelines for them.

In a lighter vein, another minister said if the airline upgrades an official travelling economy class as the aircraft is empty, it should be considered as a commercial decision.

It was clarified that official dinners could be organised appropriately but conferences by government departments and ministries should not be held in five-star hotels.

The ministers said they would abide by the guidelines issued by the Finance Ministry.

Only two days back, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his deputy Shashi Tharoor moved out of five-star hotel accommodations here following directions by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.