After contributing one month's salary to the PM-CARES fund in March, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday said he would "forego" 30 per cent of his salary for the fund for a year and reduce expenses of the Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of the steps to make more resources available for Covid-19 relief measures.
The President's initiative is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's clarion call to contribute to the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES Fund) to help strengthen the fight against the dreaded virus, which has claimed 2,549 lives besides infecting over 78,000 people across the country.
The President has instructed the Rashtrapati Bhavan to set an example by economising the expenditure, making optimal use of resources and dovetailing the saved money to combat Covid-19 and mitigate the people's economic plight.
In the President's estimation, this will be a small but significant contribution to realizing the government's vision of making India self-reliant and energising the nation to take up the challenge to fight the pandemic.
To reduce its expenditure, the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday announced undertaking some measures that include no new capital works during financial year 2020-21 and only completion of the ongoing works.
Repair and maintenance work will be minimised in the Rashtrapati Bhavan to ensure upkeep of assets and there will be a substantial reduction in the use of office consumables. For instance, the Rashtrapati Bhavan will use e-technology to cut down the use of paper to avoid wastage and make the office eco-friendly. Efforts will be made to save energy and fuel by rationalising their usage.
The President has decided to defer purchase of the Presidential Limousine which was to be used for ceremonial occasions. The existing resources of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the government will be shared and used for such occasions.
The domestic tours and programmes will be substantially reduced in order to follow the social distancing restrictions and minimise the expenditure that such exercises entail, a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said. Instead, the President will largely rely on technology to reach out to people, said the statement.
Consumption during ceremonial occasions such as At-Home ceremonies and state banquets will be minimised by taking measures such as keeping smaller guest lists to maintain social distancing, lesser usage of flowers and other items for decoration on such occasions, and pruning the food menu to the extent possible.
It is estimated that these measures will save nearly 20 per cent of the budget of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the current financial year.
Meanwhile, it will be ensured that such austerity measures would have no adverse impact on support given to outsourced and contractual workers. The statement clarified that other activities taken up by the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the welfare of the poor would not be affected.