The central government spent Rs 239.05 crore on official foreign trips by the NDA Council of Ministers over the last four years, with the bill dipping each year, data obtained by The Indian Express under the RTI Act show.
Responding to an RTI application, the Pay & Accounts Office, Cabinet Affairs, stated that Rs 225.30 crore was spent on official foreign trips by the Cabinet Ministers and Rs 13.75 crore on Ministers of State from April 1, 2014, till March 31, 2018. The Council of Ministers currently comprises 25 Cabinet Ministers and 45 Ministers of State, including 11 with independent charge.
The RTI data show a sharp slide in the amount spent on these trips. That amount could even be marginally lesser, considering that the bill for 2014-2015 (Rs 90.88 crore) would also cover foreign trips undertaken by the previous UPA Council of Ministers before the NDA government took charge on May 27, 2014. The response did not include details or a break-up of expenditure.
Incidentally, in a reply dated December 13 to the Rajya Sabha, MoS, External Affairs, V K Singh placed on record that a total of Rs 2,021.58 crore was spent on the Prime Minister’s 48 official trips abroad so far, including for aircraft maintenance, chartered flights and a secure hotline.
The expenses for official foreign trips for the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers are covered by the Pay & Accounts Office, Cabinet Affairs, which comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).