Rajya Sabha announces austerity measures, looks to cut Rs 80-cr expenses
The Rajya Sabha has announced it will implement austerity measures, including a hold on international travel and reduced study visits by its committees, to curtail its expenses by around Rs 80 crore this fiscal.
The Upper House will also save by cutting down on the purchase of vehicles, prioritisation of publications, and putting on hold the training of officials and award of fellowships and internships under the Rajya Sabha Research Scheme.
A meeting chaired by Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday decided the Upper House will implement an expenditure reduction plan in the wake of the global economic slump caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The chairperson had called for an expenses reduction plan to be prepared. Secretary general Desh Deepak Verma informed that savings of Rs. 60 crore have already been identified against the annual budget of Rs. 423 crore for the secretariat for 2020-21. Total savings of Rs. 80 core are being targeted as the financial year progresses,” said an official aware of the details.
The official said Naidu had given instructions that in view of the extension of lockdown till May 17 and the need for the executive’s undivided focus on containing the spread of Covid-19, a view on holding meetings of department-related standing committees and other committees of the House will be formulated later.
This was the first meeting Naidu held with senior officials of the secretariat since the nationwide lockdown began on March 25.
Naidu also instructed officials to initiate action to fill up the posts of chairmen of eight committees. These vacancies arose after the retirement of some Rajya Sabha members.
The vacancies include the posts of chairmen of department-related standing committees on human resource development and industries, which were held by Satyanarayan Jatiya and K Keshava Rao respectively. The chairmanship of three standing committees on privileges, subordinate legislation, and papers laid on the table fell vacant with the retirement of Harivansh, deputy chairman, T Subbarami Reddy and CP Thakur respectively.
Three other committees without heads are those on ethics, MPLADS and provision of computers for members of Rajya Sabha (PCMRS), which were led by Prabhat Jha, Harivansh and Tiruchi Siva.
“As for oath taking by 38 members who were recently elected unopposed, it has been decided oath will be administered to them inside the chamber of the Rajya Sabha after the lockdown, if feasible, before the next session so as to comply with the norm of physical distance, with their family members likely to attend,” the official said.