The finance ministry has issued directives to government employees to choose flights with the cheapest fare available on their entitled travel class as the Centre aims to reduce unnecessary expenditure, PTI reported.

Government employees are authorised to purchase air tickets only from three travel agents Balmer Lawrie and Company Limited, Ashok Travels and Tours and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited.

Tickets for all employees for a single tour should be done through one selected travel agency only, said the memorandum issued by the Department of Expenditure on June 16.

Flight tickets should be booked at least 21 days before the date of travel on tour and leave travel concession.

“…To avail the most competitive fares and minimise burden on the exchequer,” it said. “Bookings may be made even if the approval of the tour programme is still under process.”

Employees making flight bookings within less than 72 hours of the date of travel will have to submit a self-declared justification.

“Employees are also encouraged to avoid unnecessary cancellations,” the finance ministry said. “Cancellations made less than 24 hours before intended travel, will require the submission of a self-declared justification by the employee.”

The ministry added that employees should book only one ticket for each leg of intended travel.

It also urged the employees to opt for digital bookings only.

“In case of unavoidable circumstances, where the booking of ticket is done from unauthorised travel agent or website, the financial advisors of the ministry and head of department not below the rank of joint secretary in subordinate offices are authorised to grant relaxation,” it noted.

All the dues on account of air travel should be completed within 30 days after completion of the journey, the ministry told the departments.

The government asked all the departments to clear their previous air travel dues by August 31.

This development came as the finance ministry plans to cut down on unnecessary expenditures amid high fiscal expenses, according to PTI.

In May, India’s wholesale inflation rate rose to a record high of 15.88% the highest in 10 years.

The indicator of price rise in wholesale markets has remained in double digits since April last year. In May last year, the wholesale inflation rate was 13.11%.