The central government babus have been given a big hike in TA/DA (travel allowance/dearness allowance) as part of implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission, but it may be only illusory as ministries and departments will get no additional funds to foot their bills.
The finance ministry has, instead, recommended various austerity measures to be adopted to prevent any extra burden of the TA/DA hike on the tax-payer.
An office memorandum issued by the Department of Expenditure in the finance ministry suggests that officers should travel bare minimum by making full use of information technology, like email, teleconferencing and video conferencing.
The memorandum says officers "also may be encouraged, although not mandated, to travel by a class lower than their entitlement." The final decision in this regard, however, may be left to the officers, it stressed.
Referring to substantial hike given in the reimbursement for stay in hotels while on tour, the memorandum said since no additional funds will be provided for the purpose, "it is advised that officers may preferably stay in circuit houses, government guest houses, inspection bungalows, messes, etc, if they are available."
The memorandum also asks the ministries to devise internal processes to leverage the discounts provided by the airlines and recommends in this regard steps like buying the cheapest fair in economy/business class travel, preferably by getting information through Internet.
It has been also mandated that all mileage points earned by the government employees on the airlines tickets bought for office travel shall be henceforth utilised by the concerned department for the official travel of other officers.
"It is the responsibility of the officer concerned to ensure that free mileage points are used only for official travel and not for personal trips," the memorandum said, adding that any package such as free companion should be negotiated so that the benefit comes to the government.