Govt gets tough with staff over flight bills

Govt gets tough with staff over flight bills

Officials may find it difficult to get their  flight bills cleared if they fly on private airlines rather than on Air India without prior permission.

The government has made it clear that  officials cannot cite "ignorance" or "unawareness" of the rule to clear their air bills for official tours.

Following a Ministry of Finance (MoF) communique, the Ministry of Home Affairs has asked its officials to fly in Air India only and warned that there will be no relaxation on ground that they were unaware of any such rules.

The MHA office memorandum comes against the backdrop of a surge in applications from officials who travel in private airlines to regularise the expenses.

As per rules, officials can use only Air India for official tours and they should book their tickets through the airlines' booking counter or its website or buy it from three authorised agents, including the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

Citing the communique issued by the Department of Expenditure of MoF, the MHA has said despite repeated instructions, it is frequently receiving proposals for relaxation of rules after pointing out that they were ignorant or unaware of such guidelines.

"Department of Expenditure has clarified to MHA that henceforth relaxation on account of ignorance/unawareness of the guidelines would not be considered by them in future," the MHA document said.

As per the guidelines, the government bears the cost of air ticket. In case of non-availability of an authorised agent at a particular location, ticket should be booked through the Air India website or through web portals of the three agents, which include Balmer Lawrie and Company Ltd and Ashok Travels and Tours.

The officials are given permission to travel in other airlines in some cases due to operational or other reasons or on account of non-availability of Air lndia flights on any route but they have to take prior permission.

On Leave Travel Concession (LTC) too, relaxation to travel by airlines other than Air India will be granted only in exceptional circumstances. Non availability of Air India flight or seats on a particular day would not be considered as a valid ground for seeking relaxation, according to rules.

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