It’s official: the government’s austerity drive is well and truly over and ministers and senior officials can now let out a huge sigh of relief.
Starting April 1, they can fly first class and need not bother themselves with what Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor had referred to as “cattle class”.
On Monday, the Ministry of Finance issued an office memorandum withdrawing its Sept 9, 2009 order that had said that “no travel on government account by air will take place by first class and all domestic travel on government account by air will take place only by economy class, irrespective of the entitlement”.
“The matter has been reviewed and it has been decided that w.e.f 1st April, 2010, travel on Government account by air,
both domestic and international may take place by the entitled class. However, the austerity measures will remain in place for travel by air (where admissible) on LTC which would continue to be restricted to economy class irrespective of the entitlement,’’ said the March 22 memorandum.
HT had reported on March 14 that the government was planning to go easy on its austerity regime as the economic downturn was over.
But the seven-month-long austerity drive had proved to be hard on a number of ministers, some of whom had even spoken about it in the Cabinet meetings. Most ministers, however, chose to follow the diktat.