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Ministry to clear airports’ dues to CISF in 3 years

New Delhi: About Rs 2,100 crore that various airports owe to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) will be cleared over three years starting next month, as per a collective decision by Amit Shah-led home ministry and Hardeep Singh Puri-led aviation ministry.

“Dues will be cleared with increased passenger services fee (PSF) that we have announced to hike,” a senior aviation ministry official said. “We have calculated the increase in a manner that dues will be fully cleared in three years starting July this year.”

The issue of dues owed to CISF by both private airports and tho-se operated by Airport Authority of India (AAI) had been a matter of concern with the home ministry in July last year going to the extent of threatening to pull out its force from airports if the dues were not cleared. The Prime Minister’s Office then had to intervene to resolve the issue.

The Narendra Modi government, in its second stint, has cleared the long-pending demand to increase PSF as cost of security was not being met through existing charges, officials said.

PSF per domestic passenger has been increased to Rs 150 from Rs 130, while for international passengers the rise is to $4.85, or about Rs 338, from $3.25, or about Rs 225, starting July 1. PSF has also been linked to inflation now, which means the fee would increase every three years based on inflation rate, thus taking care of any increase in cost.

As per the plan, payment of dues will happen in instalments and the collection and payment of PSF will now be the responsibility of the aviation ministry, said the official quoted earlier.

“One of the big concerns the home ministry had was that airport operators were not utilising the collected fee judiciously, leading to deficit in collection and utilisation. Hence, it has now been decided the aviation ministry will get collections from PSF.”

Earlier, each airport used to collect PSF individually. Now, it will be deposited in an escrow account that the civil aviation ministry will have with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), to be managed by a trust with AAI as its trustee.

Under the new arrangement, the government has also decided to waive off the penal interest charged on the dues. “With the waiver of penal interest, the total dues have gone down by about Rs 400 crore,” the official said.

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