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May 18, 2012 at 03:07pm IST

Pranab's austerity: Officials' foreign trips curbed

New Delhi: Two days after announcing in Parliament that India will have to tighten its belt, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has hinted at austerity measures that will be taken. Pranab said that there will soon be a ban on the purchase of new vehicles by the government departments.

Interestingly, Home Minister P Chidambaram and the Home Secretary have recently purchased new official cars.

Pranab also said that foreign trips by government officials will also be curbed.

The Finance Minister has reiterated his proposal that subsidy expenditure should be brought down specifically to 1.75 per cent of the GDP in the next three years.

Earlier on Wednesday, worried over deteriorating global economic situation, the government had announced that it would resort to "unpopular" austerity measures to deal with fiscal problems but made it clear there is no pressing of "panic button".

Pranab Mukherjee had told the Rajya Sabha that the government needed to deal with difficult situation in wake of the rising prices of the crude oil in international market and said efforts would be made to push growth which declined to a disappointing level of 6.9 per cent in 2011-12.

Mukherjee, who was replying to a debate on Finance Bill at a time when the BSE sensex dipped below the psychological level of 16,000 mainly on account of global factors, cited this as an example of how the international crisis was impacting India. The House later returned the bill marking completion of the three-stage budgetary exercise for 2012-13 by Parliament.

(With additional information from PTI)