Govt goes high flying; spent Rs 42 cr on foreign travel

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UPA Cabinet
New Delhi, Sept 28: With the Union Government in the receiving end of flak from various quarters over the various scams and controversies that has emerged during the UPA tenure, it seems the Union Ministers made most of their time in office by going on foreign trips.

An RTI query has found that the government has spent a whopping Rs 42 crore on foreign trips by Union Ministers in 2010 alone. The revelation was made by the cabinet secretariat following an RTI query. While the Cabinet Ministers spent Rs 37.16 crore on the foreign visits, the Ministers of State spent Rs 4.76 crore on the same.

It has also been found that the total spending by the public exchequer was Rs 41.82 crore for the year 2010-11. The details on the expense was made available to activist S C Agrawal following instructions from chief information commissioner Satyananda Mishra who agreed on the disclosure.

Agarwal had earlier sought the travel details from the cabinet secretariat. Mishra stated on the large expense incurred by the Union Ministers, "While we tend to agree with the submission made by the respondents (cabinet secretariat), we think it would be in the interest of transparency if some key information about the domestic and international travel by Union ministers could be maintained centrally in cabinet secretariat itself, especially since the pay and accounts office under it is responsible for all accounting details for payment of salary and reimbursement of their travel expenditure."

Mishra commented on the difficulties faced in collating the information with the cabinet secretariat as the information was scattered across various ministries. But the matter was quashed after it reached the Central Information Commission.

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