NEW DELHI: The Finance Ministry in a bid to reduce unnecessary expenses, has advised government employees to opt for the 'cheapest fare available' on their eligible travel class and book air tickets at least three weeks before their date of travel for tours and LTC (Leave Travel Concession).
The ministry said that employees should book only one ticket for each period of the intended trip and that bookings should be made even though the approval of the tour program is under process and that "unnecessary cancellations" should be avoided.
Currently, government employees should book air tickets only from three authorised travel agents --- Balmer Lawrie & Co, Ashok Travel & Tours and IRCTC.
According to the revised government instruction with regards to booking of air tickets, any booking made within less than 72 hours of the intended trip on the tour or cancellation within 24 hours of the intended trip will require that the employee must submit a self-declared justification.
"Employees are to choose flights having the Best Available Fare on their entitled travel class which is the Cheapest Fare available, preferably for non-stop flight in a given slot at the time of booking," said the office memorandum of the Department of Expenditure.
Tickets for all staff for a single tour can only be made through a selected travel agent, and any additional fees/ charges should be paid t these booking agents as per the instructions. "Employees are encouraged to book flight tickets at least 21 days prior to the intended travel on tour and LTC, to avail the most competitive fares and minimise the burden on the exchequer," it said.
The revised proposal also encouraged bookings to be made digitally through the self-booking tool / online booking website/portal of the three authorized travel agents.
"Employees should preferably book only one ticket for each leg of intended travel. Holding more than one ticket is not allowed. However, in case of special exigencies or exceptional circumstances, a maximum of two tickets for the alternative flights for different time-slot may be booked for the same leg of travel with the self-declared justification for the same," the instruction read.
In exceptional cases when booking tickets from an unauthorized travel agent/website, the exemption has to be granted only by the Joint Secretary or an officer of equal or higher rank, according to PTI.
All ministries and departments were directed by the Expenditure department to clear the bills to the travel agents within 30 days of completion of the journey. At the same time, officers are required to submit a Certificate / Undertaking confirming their trip within 72 hours of the journey.
Ministries are further required to ensure that all previous outstanding dues to the travel agents are fully paid by August 31, 2022, and adding that mileage points will not be generated while travelling on a government account.
The ministry is looking to reduce unnecessary expenses as the financial costs are already high due to reduction in excise duty on petrol and diesel, reduction in customs duty on certain goods, high fertilizer subsidy and free food scheme for the poor.