'Companions on flight with ministers no fiscal burden'

On being asked about his views on the Bill in light of the austerity drive of the Centre, Chidambaram said “please read the Bill, it has no financial implications at all.”

The home minister, however, did not elaborate while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 46th raising day celebrations of the Sashastra Seema Bal here.

The government, last week introduced the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2009, in the Lok Sabha to provide free air travel for companions or relatives of Union ministers, a facility which only their family members got till now, on lines of the privilege enjoyed by MPs.

The Bill, which was piloted by Chidambaram, was later approved by the Lower House.
It entitles ministers to take along “any number of companions or relatives” by air at the same rates at which travelling allowances were payable to them and their family.

“A minister shall be entitled to an amount equal to the fare for a single journey performed by him, during each year, within India, either alone or along with spouse or legitimate or stepchildren, residing with and wholly dependent on him, or any number of companions or relatives, at the same rates at which travelling allowances is payable to such minister, subject to a maximum of 48 such fares per year,” it said.

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