Ministries asked to buy tickets from Air India directly

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New Delhi, October 16:  Finance Ministry has asked all ministries and departments to buy air tickets directly from Air India counters or its official website to save on payment of commission to agents.

“All Ministries/Departments are again advised that, as far as possible, air tickets on government account may be obtained directly from Air India/Airlines (booking counters/offices/website),” the Ministry said in a circular.

However, it said, if it is not possible to obtain tickets directly from Air India/Airlines counters, they may obtain the services of three authorised travel agents — Balmer Lawrie & Company (BLCL), Ashok Travels & Tours (ATT) and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC).

The PSU travel agents are allowed to levy facilitation fee of Rs 100 per ticket for domestic sector and Rs 300 per ticket for international sector to book tickets on behalf of the government.

Earlier, the Ministry had asked all the government departments not to pay agency commission or charges to Balmer Lawrie & Company (BLCL) in their bills till a final decision is taken in the matter, it said.

The move is part of government’s austerity measure to restrict the fiscal deficit to the budgeted figure of 4.8 per cent of GDP in 2013-14.

The Finance Ministry had earlier also directed that the size of delegations going abroad should be kept at “absolute minimum.”

The government has been employing austerity measures since 2008-09. These measures had helped the government to contain the fiscal deficit at 4.9 per cent of GDP in the previous financial year, against the budgeted target of 5.1 per cent.

Government has also put a freeze on fresh appointments, banning holding of its conferences in 5-star hotels and barring officials from executive class air travel so as to check fiscal deficit from going out of control.

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