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Kerala announces austerity steps; restricts foreign travel

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Story Dated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 09:34 hrs EDT

Faced with a financial crunch due to shortfall in revenue, the Congress-led UDF Government in Kerala today announced a slew of austerity measures, including restrictions on creation of new posts and foreign travel by Ministers and bureaucrats.

The steps were finalised at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by chief minister Oommen Chandy which took stock of the scenario resulting from fall in estimated budget revenue by one to four per cent as the financial year moved into the second half.

Talking to reporters separately, Chandy and finance minister K M Mani said these measures would be implemented without in anyway cutting the expenditures for development and welfare.

Holding that the prevailing situation could not be termed as "crisis", both of them said it was not the result of the lapses on the part of the government but arising from economic slowdown.

The recession had resulted in fall in revenue from such sources as registration of properties and vehicles and general slowdown in business activities. The proceed from sale of liquor had also come down due to slump in consumption although the government saw it as a positive development, they said.

Mani said for mopping up resources through non-tax means, the government would examine the possibility of hiking various fees charged on government services, fixed years ago.

While there was a growth of 11 per cent in revenue during the current fiscal, the growth in expenditure was to the tune of 20 per cent, leaving a gap of nine per cent, the Finance Minister said. When asked specifically about the restriction on foreign tours, Mani said, "The restriction is for all to follow including ministers and only in most essential matters it would be relaxed."

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