By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, July 7, 2020: Odisha on Tuesday banned air and first class rail travel for officials as part of its austerity measures to make space for Covid-19 related expenditure.

Odisha finance department secretary A K Meena in a letter to all the government departments said there would be a complete ban on purchase of new vehicles for the next two years and travel and official tours have to be avoided in general.

“All administrative departments are required to prioritise their expenditure needs in order to limit the expenditure within the resources available with priority to make fiscal space for Covid-19 related expenditure. There would be a complete ban on travel outside the country and air travel in business class using government funds. Air journey should be avoided and meetings through video conferencing or IT may be preferred. In exigencies approval of authority one level higher than the present delegation would be required for journey by air. There would be a complete ban on journey by train in 1st class AC by all government officers,” the letter said.

Meena also clarified that if any officer has to travel, then no reimbursement would be allowed for occupancy in any hotel in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.

Besides, there would be a complete ban on creation of new posts except for the health & family welfare department. New engagement of consultants, outsourcing and employing services of retired government officers would be restricted.

Experts have said that Odisha has no other way than to borrow liberally so as to provide for higher spending on healthcare and continue with its welfare programmes.

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