A day before the Union Budget, the Lok Sabha Secretariat issued instructions to sharply curtail expenditure incurred by all Parliamentary Committees on logistics including travel and accommodation on their study tours.
The circular says that all arrangements related to travel and stay will be undertaken by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) which comes under the Ministry of Railways.
This is a departure from the current system where arrangements are made by Ministries concerned, state governments, organisations and PSUs.
The circular caps room rent for members and for the chairperson of the committee: Rs 10,000 in category of 5-star hotel; Rs 8,000 for 4-star and Rs 6,000 for 3-Star Hotel. For a suite for the Chairperson/Convener of the Committee, these rates have been fixed at Rs 20,000, Rs 16,000 and up to Rs 12,000 respectively.
Currently, there are no such caps on room/suite rents.
As for officials accompanying members the committee, the new guidelines stipulate “rooms on single/twin sharing basis as per eligibility.” Current guidelines provide for a “separate standard room” for “each member/officer.”
In case a member is accompanied by his/her spouse or a companion on “health ground” he/she may “on request, be provided a double occupancy room” however “expenditure “for the spouse/attendant will be paid by the member,” says the circular. Room charges will be confined to rental only and any extra room service charge or laundry service will be recoverable from members and officials of Lok Sabha Secretariat accompanying the Parliamentary Committee.
A senior official in the Lok Sabha Secretariat said that the new guidelines will be implemented by the end of this month. Said a senior official in IRCTC: “We have given our consent (to the new arrangement). It will be followed by a formal agreement.”
The new “centralized arrangement” of travel, the circular says, is for a period “February 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021,” subject to “ongoing assessment on a tour to tour basis.”
For transport, the circular says that “members and officials shall be provided local arrangements on twin-sharing basis (except Chairperson/convener of Sub-committee/Study group).” It clarifies that “mid-segment vehicles preferably Innova or equivalent shall be hired on per day basis.”
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