Government has spent nearly 42 crore on foreign visits by Union Ministers during the last one year. The information provided in an RTI reply shows that while Cabinet Ministers spent Rs 37.16 crore on their foreign visits, their junior colleagues, Ministers of State, spent about Rs 4.76 crore on these visits bringing the total travel expenditure to Rs 41.82 crore for the year 2010-11.
In the case, Agrawal had sought to know from the Cabinet Secretariat the travel details of Union Ministers for the last three years, but he was told that information was “scattered” across different ministries and he would have to collect it from them separately.
When the matter reached the Central Information Commission, the Cabinet Secretariat reiterated its position.
The Secretariat also noted that to collate the information, a large volume of records and documents would have to be scrutinised which would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority.
“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 the salary and reimbursement of their travel expenditure,” CIC Satyananda Mishra had said in his order.
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