While the Chief Information Commission (CIC) awaits files on PM Modi’s expenditure on foreign trips, it is yet to take a call on whether the information of the expense during Modi’s visit to 40 different countries can be made public.
Image credit: NDTV
As SabrangIndia had reported earlier, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has refused to give information on PM’s foreign trip bills. However, CIC has a set a deadline of November 18 for the PMO to submit all the expense details from the trips to the commission.
According to the news reports, Right to Information (RTI) campaigner and retired navy commodore Lokesh Batra had used his RTI applications to ask for details of the foreign travels of PM Modi and his predecessor Manmohan Singh.The Prime Minister's Office and the External Affairs Ministry had refused to share the details, citing security concerns.
Commodore Batra has claimed that he wants study the reason behind the delay in the payment by PMO to the cash-strapped airline Air India.
It was previously reported that PM Modi, owes Rs 134 crore to the airline for chartered flights he embarked upon no less than 10 times between June and December 2015. The company has raised the invoices to all these trips but as has become the norm, the bills are yet to be cleared.
"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?" questions Batra. "Ideally, the PMO should settle each of these bills within a month of receiving the invoices."
A Business Standard report claims that the PMO itself has been cagey about revealing expenses of each of Modi's foreign trips. RTI applications yield truncated replies, and reasons like "bill under process" or "bill not received" are frequently used. The details about the amount due to Air India came to light after a separate RTI was filed by Batra directly to Air India.
"Air India is in deep financial crisis and I wanted to know why it takes so long to clear bills to the national carrier under different regimes," Commodore Batra told NDTV.
It’ll be interesting to know if the expenditure has increased or decreased from the last year’s figure, which had shown an increase by more than 80 percent over previous years.
According to a Times of India report, trips taken by PM Modi and his cabinet colleagues costed Rs 567 crore in the financial year 2015-16 – a steep increase from the previous year, budget documents show. This was besides the over Rs 500 crore that his bureaucrats spend on their travel each year on an average.
The total tour expenses of the PM and his ministers went up from Rs 269 crore as estimated in the budget at the beginning of the 2015-16 fiscal to Rs 567 crore, as per the revised estimates towards the end of the year. In addition, the total tour expenditure of bureaucrats was over Rs 1,500 crore in the three years up to 2014-15.
The previous government during its five-year-tenure had spent Rs 1,500 crore on travel.
In comparison, the travel bill of the NDA government in just three years (between 2014-15 and 2016-17) is estimated at Rs 1,140 crore, claims the report.
A Hindu report has broken up the available expenditure figures and has correlated it with the agreement signed or speeches delivered during that particular trip. The correlation makes for an interesting analysis.
|Country||Speeches Delivered||Agreements signed||Expense (Rs)|
(With all inputs from The Hindu)
The chart shows that nearly in the 50 per cent of the countries Modi visited from the chart, not even a single agreement was signed, and no speech was delivered in two of the 13 listed countries. While crores of Rupees from taxpayers’ money are being spent on the foreign trips of the PM and the cabinet ministers, it’s also a high time to monitor our gains as against our expenditure.
Image credit: Times of India