Providing a respite to the central government employees, the Department of Personnel and Training has allowed ministries and departments a one-time relaxation to reimburse cancellation and rescheduling charges for air and plane tickets booked in advance by government officials for leave travel concession (LTC) journey during the coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown period from March 24 to May 31, 2020.
The government had declared a nationwide lockdown from March 25 last year to control the spread of COVID-19 infections, which led to cancellation of trains and flights.
"During this period (March-May 2020), all domestic flights within India were cancelled but certain airlines have charged the cancellation charges against the pre-booked air tickets. In such a situation, many government employees who had booked LTC tickets in advance for that period are facing financial difficulties in view of the high cancellation amount charged by the airlines," the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said in an office memorandum dated January 7.
The DoPT said it had been receiving requests for grant of one-time relaxation for reimbursement of cancellation charges.
Accordingly, it said, "Ministries/Departments are delegated the power to reimburse the cancellation/reschedule charges of air/train tickets, as a one-time relaxation, to such government servants who had booked advance air/train tickets for the purpose of LTC journey during the lockdown period from March 24, 2020 to May 31, 2020 but were not able to perform the journey due to cancellation/rescheduling of flights/trains during that period."
Such employees will have to produce receipt of cancellation or re-schedule charges incurred by them.
Besides, in cases where the airlines have kept the refund amount for cancelled flights in 'credit shell', it said, the ministries/departments can extend the period of repayment of LTC advance taken by the government official for LTC journey scheduled during the lockdown period till February 28, 2021, or till such time the amount in credit shell is utilised by the employee to perform LTC journey, whichever is earlier.
"In cases where the government servants have drawn LTC advance as well as leave encashment so as to perform the LTC journey but could not perform journey during the lockdown period and now intend to opt for Special Cash Package Scheme in lieu of LTC... they are also allowed to avail the facility of the Scheme," the memorandum said.
The LTC advance and leave encashment which have remained unsettled due to the non-performance of the journey may be settled as per the special cash package scheme, it said.
In October, the Centre had said it will give cash vouchers to government employees in lieu of LTC fare, which could be spent for buying non-food rated GST-rated items, in order to boost demand in the economy battered by the pandemic.