Smaller Cabinet Helps Modi Cut Spend


New Delhi: Narendra Modi may have toured the world like no other Indian Prime Minister during his first year in office, but his government has managed to keep the overall travel bill below the budgetary allocation by Rs 2 crore, according to the Union finance accounts for 2014-15.

As against the revised budget estimates (RE) of Rs 316.76 crore for 2014-15, passed by Parliament in the budget last year, the tour expenses of the PM and his ministers during the first year actually came down by Rs 2 crore to Rs 314.76 crore. The actual expenditure is reflected in the finance accounts tabled in Parliament towards the end of the winter session.

But more significant has been the savings on account of salaries and allowances of Modi’s ministers. The reduction in salary bills and allowances of ministers during the financial year has been between 17%-24%. As against the salary bill of Rs 4.40 crore for cabinet ministers and MoS in the RE, the actuals are at Rs 3.63 crore.

Similarly, the actual expenditure on allowances to ministers has come down from Rs 9.50 crore (as projected in the RE) to Rs 7.20 crore during the first year. The explanation given by the government in the Appropriation Accounts says the cut in the overall salary, allowances and tour bills have been possible due to “reduction in the strength of Cabinet, less foreign tours undertaken and economy measures”.

This bill includes expenditure on travel by cabinet ministers, ministers of state and ex-PMs and maintenance of aircraft used by VVIPs, the ones used by the President, Vice President and Prime Minister. Modi has travelled extensively in his first year in office, logging more flying miles than his ministers.

The travel bill of Modi government in its inaugural year is still about Rs 56 crore more than the Rs 258 crore the UPA-II cabinet had spent in its last year in office (2013-14). In the current year, according to the 2015-16 budget, the government has projected the travel spend of Rs 269 crore.
At Rs 10.83 crore, the salary and allowances bills of the 65-member Modi’s council of ministers have been brought down by at least Rs 3 crore from projected Rs 13.90 crore in the RE which was at the same level as that of the 75-member UPA cabinet.

According to the finance accounts, the expenditure of the PMO has come down from Rs 39.70 crore to Rs 36.45 crore but that of the cabinet secretariat has significantly increased from Rs 56 crore in the RE to Rs 70.51 crore actuals.