President Ram Nath Kovind will forgo 30% of his salary for a year and drastically reduce spending on travel and ceremonial banquets, to free up more funds for the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. Apart from domestic tours, consumption during at-home ceremonies and state banquets will be minimised by keeping smaller guest lists, reducing the number of items on the menu and using less flowers and decorative items, a communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
“The President has given instructions to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to set an example by economising the expenditure, making optimal usage of resources, and dovetailing the saved money to combat Covid-19 and mitigate the people’s economic plight,” the communique said. “In the President’s estimation, this will be a small but significant contribution to realise the government’s vision of making India self-reliant [Atmanirbhar].”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Monday announced a Rs 20-lakh crore package to help businesses, farmers and labourers during the nationwide lockdown and to increase economic activity. He stressed that India will henceforth have to become self-reliant.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan will not undertake any new capital expenditure in the 2020-’21 financial year. Repair and maintenance work will be minimised. E-technology will be used to minimise the user of paper and make the office eco-friendly. The purchase of the presidential limousine will also be deferred.
“It is estimated that these measures will save nearly 20% of the budget of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the current financial year,” the communique said. “Meanwhile, it will be ensured that such austerity measures would have no adverse impact on support given to outsourced/contractual workers. Other activities taken up by the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the welfare of poor people will not be affected either.”
In April, the Union Cabinet cleared an ordinance to cut the salaries of MPs and ministers by 30% for one year, including that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Some states, like Telangana and Maharashtra, have announced salary cuts for all government officials.
The Centre had on March 25 imposed a complete lockdown in the country to combat the coronavirus. The lockdown has been extended thrice, most recently to beyond March 18. Though some economic activities are now allowed in orange and green zones, the lockdown has led to major economic problems, unemployment and social distress.
India has so far reported 78,003 cases of Covid-19, including 2,549 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.