As economy limps, netas, babus (read Bureaucrats ) blow up taxpayers’ money
NEW DELHI: From curbs on gold imports to steps to conserve fuel, the government wants people to tighten their belts. But it isn’t tightening its own.
An HT analysis has found that taxpayers’ money has been liberally splurged on making the homes of ministers swankier than they already were. Maintaining the rent-free bungalows of 77 central ministers cost the public exchequer R100 crore over the last three years at a time when an average middleclass Delhi family was finding it difficult to buy a home as rising prices put a dent in its savings.
The amount, by the way, is four times of what was spent on the upkeep of bungalows occupied by other “dignitaries”.
In these trying times, the government had officially maintained that it will trim its expenditure by 10%. But budget documents show that the government’s travel bill has tripled in the last 11 years to R3,500 crore in 2011-12 — enough to run the meal scheme for India’s schoolchildren for six months.
Rules were changed to meet the austerity goal, but those who felt the pinch got them changed back. A luncheon meeting convened by the then principal secretary to the PM, TKA Nair, in August 2009 was enough for senior babus to get back free tickets for their companions.
UPA ministers, forced to fly economy in 2008 at the time of the global economic slowdown, are back in the business class. In 2011-12, the government paid R678 crore on the air fares of 40 globetrotting ministers — 12 times more than the previous year’s sum.
Govt sits on bloated travel bills Rs3,519cr Upkeep of babus’ ( read Bureaucrats )
homes cost R100cr
BLEEDING RESOURCES The govt’s total travel bill stands at Rs 3519cr today
NEW DELHI: With the Centre’s travel expenses tripling in the last decade, the government seems to have failed to apply austerity measures on itself.
The finance ministry had recently asked central ministries to reduce non-plan expenses by about 10% to bridge the fiscal deficit.
With the decreasing number of central government employees, the target wasn’t unachievable. HT looked at budget documents since 2001, and discovered that the total travel bill for nearly 3.2 million government employees in 2000-01 was R1,100 crore. The bill stood at R3,519 crore 11 years later, though the number of employees came down to around 3 million.
Even if inflation is taken into account, the travel expense should have at the most doubled.
The officials attributed rising costs for the increase in government travel bills. “The cost of a ticket to the United States from Delhi has more than doubled. Even domestic air travel costs have gone up,” said a senior government official.
The flip side of the rising travel cost was provided by another official, who said, “Most tickets are booked at full cost to earn a complimentary ticket.”
Details provided by the government in reply to an RTI application showed that 1,576 bureaucrats traveled more than 50 million km and stayed (a combined) 24,458 days abroad between January 2005 and April 2008, costing the exchequer R542 crore.
The government’s reply to another RTI application shows it spent R678 crore on travel bills of 40 globetrotting ministers in 2010-11.
Total travel bill for 3.2 mn govt employees in 2000-01 was R1,100 cr. It stands at R3,519 cr today R678 cr spent on travels bills of 40 globetrotting ministers in 2010-11 March 1997: Govt allows officials to accept “free” tickets for personal use September 2008: Govt bans officers from taking free companion tickets to push them to buy cheaper tickets April 1997: Principal secretary to PM TKA Nair convenes meeting, government prepares to withdraw ban even before minutes are issued. NEW DELHI: In the past three years, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has spent about R100 crore on the upkeep and maintenance of 77 bungalows occupied by central ministers in the Capital’s plush Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ).
What the government spent for beautifying the lawns, giving a fresh coat of paint, installing an AC or upgrading the furnishings of our ministers’ bungalows is roughly the price of about 80 medium sized three bedroom flats in Delhi’s middle class localities of Dwarka and Mayur Vihar.
In 2012-13, the CPWD spent a total of R35.63 crore on overall maintenance of bungalows occupied by 77 central ministers.
Besides the ministers’ houses, there are another 223 bungalows in LBZ occupied by judges of Supreme Court and high court, top army brass, commission chairman, cabinet secretary, and top law and policy makers. Repair and upgradation of these bungalows cost CPWD another R27 crore in 2012-13.
In all, the CPWD spent R62.63 crore on the facelift of 300 LBZ bungalows last year.
Over the annual maintenance that is undertaken by CPWD, central ministers get between R1.5 lakh to R2 lakh for renovation once they are allotted a new bungalow. “It’s a one time entitlement that an MP, who is appointed as a minister and is allotted a new bungalow, gets,” said an official.
“One of the reasons for the high maintenance cost is that these bungalows are very old. But many a times, there are also specific demands such as some special kind of tiles or furnishings and upholstery that adds to the cost,” an urban development ministry official said on conditions of anonymity.