Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s budget seems to clearly reflect the government’s seriousness to cut expenses, particularly of those incurred for Union Ministers’ tours. Similarly, there is no major rise in expenses when it comes to running the offices held by the Prime Minister and his important administrative setups.

In 2011-12, the expenditure incurred on tour expenses on travel by Ministers stood at Rs. 678.53 crore, which will come down to Rs. 269.94 crore in 2012-13. For the next fiscal, Mr. Chidambaram has earmarked Rs. 270 crore for the same.

Notably, the overall expenses on salaries, allowances of the Council of Ministers, besides money spent on running important offices like the Prime Minister’s Office, the Cabinet Secretariat, the National Security Council Secretariat and the Special Protection Group (SPG) that protects India’s top leadership, has seen a steep decline in the past two years.

In 2011-12, the government spent Rs. 1,029.47 crore on these overheads. It has come down to Rs. 797.13 crore in the current fiscal, while in the current year, only Rs. 403 crorewill be spent, which is without the expenses earmarked for the SPG. The government increased fund allocation for the elite commando force from Rs. 252 crore in 2011-12 to Rs. 401 crore in the current financial year. But in the next fiscal, the SPG’s budget has been put at Rs. 386 crore.

Interestingly, the PMO’s expenditure has remained unchanged — from Rs. 29 crore in 2011-12 to almost Rs. 32 crore in the current fiscal, while a similar amount is likely to be spent by it in the next fiscal. On the contrary, the Cabinet Secretariat’s expenses has increased in the last two years — from Rs. 31 crore in 2011-12 to Rs. 51 crore. In 2012-13, Rs. 50 crore has been earmarked for it.

Amid growing security concerns, the National Security Council Secretariat, which is run by the National Security Advisor, has seen an increase in its funds over the years.

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