The mandarins in the finance ministry have finally got the message — P. Chidambaram’s cabinet colleagues will never travel within budget. They would rather spend double.
For the first time since the UPA government came to power in 2004, the finance minister marked out more money than what the ministers made the state exchequer pay the preceding year.
In case the allocation of Rs 160.76 crore this time looks only a pittance more than Rs 150.43 crore spent in 2007-08, it would perhaps be heartening to know that the fund for the last fiscal was Rs 75.5 crore. Our cabinet ministers managed to spend a little less than double the amount.
Their travel purse for 2008-09 is actually a few crores more than the total amount that was set aside in the last two budgets, which adds up to Rs 120.68 crore.
In the last four financial years, too, the expenses well exceeded the allocations. Like in 2006-07, Rs 45.18 crore was allocated, but nearly double that — Rs 92.31 crore — was the travel bill the exchequer got.
Repeated requests by the government for a show of moderation have not yielded results. In 2005, the Centre issued a 28-point instruction manual calling for restrictions on foreign travel. But in 2006-07, the expenses shot up to Rs 92.31 crore, ridiculing such sermons to check avoidable official expenditure.