Prime Minister Narendra Modi owes Air India over 100 crores

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He might be the prime minister of the world’s biggest democracy, but he does owe Air India  a LOT for his travels across the globe.

According to a report in Business Today, Narendra Modi owes Rs 134 crores to the airline for chartered flights he used about 10 times between June and December, 2015.

The company had raised the invoices for all these trips. But, of course, the payment hasn’t yet been made—a result of the country’s infamous bureaucracy?

This delay directly results in loss and is a burden to the airliner which itself needs money and runs on taxpayers’ money. The interest itself would add up to a respectable amount for the carrier.

“This is a cash-strapped airline that does not make money. Why is there such a delay on the part of the highest office in the country to settle these bills? Who bears the cost of the interest?” said navy commodore turned RTI activist Lokesh Batra to Business Today. “Ideally, the PMO should settle each of these bills within a month of receiving the invoices,” he added.

The PMO has always kept mum about the expenses of each of Modi’s foreign trips. RTI applications usually yield vague responses such as “bill under process” or “bill not received”.

According to reports, the airline had an operating loss of Rs 2,636.10 crores in 2014/15 and lags the targeted financial parameters laid down in the turnaround plan drawn up in 2012 when it received a bailout package of Rs 30,000 crores.

“You cannot blame delay in payment from the Prime Minister’s Office for this. In the overall context when the airline is burdened with so many inefficiencies, Rs 134 crore is nothing. And it is not as if payments are not made at all. The bills are always settled. You can say to some extent that it is an irritation. But that is the way bureaucracy and the government functions here. It does not get any awards for swiftness,” a former Air India chairman told Business Today.

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