Austerity Not at Expense of Security: Pranab

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that the austerity measures introduced by the Government are not at the cost of security for top leaders.

Speaking to reporters, Mukherjee said in Bangalore: “So far as the austerity measures are concerned, it is clearly stipulated that it will not compromise the security measures to be adopted by the Government to protect some individuals, particularly those who are more vulnerable and protected by the Special Protection Group (SPG).”

It should be noted that in the light of drought and economic slowdown, the government had on September 7 announced a series of austerity measures to cut its non-plan expenditure by 10 per cent.

Terming protective security as paramount, the minister said that the Government had asked all those having SPG protection not to dilute their security cover.

“We have requested them to see that Government efforts to protect them are not diluted,” the Mukherjee noted.

It may be mentioned that after Congress President Sonia Gandhi chose to fly to Mumbai and Bangalore by economy class in a commercial flight earlier this week, concerns were raised over her security.

Likewise, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi travelled to Ludhiana in Punjab early this week by the Swarn Shatabdi train which was stoned by miscreants in Haryana, causing security concerns.

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are given Z-plus security by SPG in view of the threat perception.

Admitting that flying by economy class would be a drop in the ocean, Mukherjee said if the Government was able cut non-plan expenditure by 10 per cent as envisaged, there would be a lot of savings.

“If other aspects of austerity measures are considered, the non-plan expenditure can be cut by 10 per cent, which will be substantial if we take into account our total plan expenditure,” Mukherjee pointed out.

Elaborating on the objective of austerity, the Minister said that in a budget of Rs 10 lakh crore, the gross budgetary support was Rs 305,000 crore and internal resource generation of the plan would be another Rs one lakh crore plus.

“If we deduct these figures, then there is substantial amount in the non-plan expenditure. If 10 per cent of that is actually reduced, then there will be lot of savings,” Mukherjee added.

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