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President Kovind resorts to austerity measures to aid fight against COVID-19

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President Ram Nath Kovind will forgo 30 per cent of his salary for a year and drastically reduce spending on travel and ceremonial banquets to make more resources available for the fight against coronavirus.

According to a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement, the President has given instructions to bring in austerity measures that include holding off on buying a limousine for ceremonial purposes and reworking the scale, decor, and menus of banquets.

“In the President’s estimation, this will be a small but significant contribution to realise the government’s vision of making India self-reliant (aatmanirbhar) and energise the nation to take up the challenge to fight the pandemic and continue our journey for development and prosperity simultaneously,” said the statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday, in a televised address to the nation, stressed on “Aatma Nirbhar Bharat” or self-reliant India while announcing financial assistance to revive an economy pummeled by coronavirus and weeks of lockdown.

The statement said the President would put off the purchase of a presidential limousine meant for ceremonial occasions. The “existing resources” of the Presidential palace and the government will be used and shared for these events. There will be a substantial reduction in the use of office stationery and fuel.

President Kovind will “substantially reduce” domestic tours and programmes to follow the social distancing restrictions and minimise spending. Instead, the President will largely rely on technology to reach out to people, said the statement, indicating he would opt for online meetings.

For ceremonial occasions like At-Homes organized during Republic Day and Independence Day, besides state banquets, the guest list will be smaller. Austerity will mean fewer flowers and other decorations. The food menu will be far reduced.

The measures will save nearly 20 percent of the budget of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the current financial year, the statement said.

No new capital works will be taken up till next year; only the ongoing works will be completed and repair and maintenance work will also be minimised.

Rashtrapati Bhavan said it would ensure that the austerity measures would have no adverse impact on the support given to outsourced or contractual workers.

The President had contributed a month’s salary to the PM-CARES fund in March.

Guj records 324 new Covid19 cases, total touches 9,595, death toll at 586