M A I N   N E W S

Ministers can air travel with innumerable companions
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 18
On the 48 single free air journeys that the ministers are entitled to anywhere in the country in a year, they can now carry along any number of companions or relatives, even illegitimate or stepchildren, either residing with them or wholly dependent on them.

In an interesting piece of amended legislation that the government passed in the Lok Sabha amid the chaos created by anti and pro-Telengana members this morning, ministers have been brought on a par with Members of Parliament, who enjoyed the benefit of travelling free with any number of companions or relatives for the 34 air journeys they can avail of in a year.

Under the old Salaries and Allowances Bill of 1952, ministers, on the other hand, could claim free air travel benefit only for themselves and their families. The amended law, introduced yesterday in the House by Home Minister P Chidambaram, now seeks to let them travel with not just companions and relatives, but also “legitimate and stepchildren” - something not so pointedly mentioned in the Salaries, Allowances and Pension of MPs Act, 1954, which details the perks of members.

Introducing the bill, the home minister said, “The bill seeks to remove the discrepancy in the entitlement of ministers to travel facilities…” Never mind the fact that the bill entails a huge sum of extra burden on the exchequer - something the Prime Minister had vehemently sought to prevent through the austerity drive, which had Congressmen queueing up to exhibit how far they could go on the road to abstinence.



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