President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday, May 14, announced a slew of austerity measures to aid the country's fight against COVID-19, besides making the decision to take a 30 per cent salary cut for the whole year.
A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique clarified that in order to follow social distancing restrictions and minimise expenditure, the domestic tours and programmes of the President will be significantly reduced. The President will instead use technology to reach out to people.
The President usually attends state visits abroad, and also travels across the country to attend official programmes.
The communique announcing the several measures said in the president's estimation this will be a "small but significant contribution to realise the government's vision of making India self-reliant (atmanirbhar) and energise the nation to take up the challenge to fight the pandemic and continue our journey for development and prosperity simultaneously."
The president's monthly salary is five lakh rupees.
The statement said that these measures may save nearly 20 per cent of the budget of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the current financial year.
The measures will lead to savings of around Rs 40-45 crore annually by the Rashtrapati Bhavan. It has a yearly budget of over Rs 200 crore, which includes an outlay of Rs 80.
Officials said that 98 crores has been allocated for "staff, household and allowance of the president".
By calling fewer guests, reducing the food menu and using fewer flowers and decorative items, the consumption during ceremonial occasions such as At-Home ceremonies and state banquets will also be minimised.
The purchase of the presidential limousine (at an estimated cost of around Rs 10 crore), which was to be used for ceremonial occasions, has also been deferred.
"The existing resources of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the government will be shared and used for such occasions," The New Indian Express quoted the communique.
Further, any maintenance or repair work in Rashtrapati Bhavan will be minimised to only ensure proper upkeep of assets, and no new capital works will be taken up either in the current fiscal year. Only ongoing works will be completed.
The use of office consumables will be substantially reduced, and there will be greater emphasis on using e-technology to cut down the use of paper, to ensure that wastage is avoided and the office is made eco-friendly.
"Efforts will be made to save energy and fuel by rationalising their usage," the communique said.
President Kovind has decided to forgo 30 percent of his salary for a year to help make more resources available for COVID-19 relief measures. He contributed one month's salary to the PM-CARES Fund in March.
The communique said that the Rashtrapati Bhavan has been instructed by Kovind to set an example by economising expenditure, making optimal usage of resources, and dovetailing saved money to combat COVID-19 and mitigate the people's economic plight.
"Meanwhile, it will be ensured that such austerity measures would have no adverse impact on the support given to outsourced (or) contractual workers," it said.
"Other activities taken up by the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the welfare of poor people will not be affected either," it added.