In a sign that the Narendra Modi government is embarking on an austerity drive, the finance ministry has nudged all ministries to voluntarily cut expenses for foreign trips by 10% in the current financial year.
The ministry of finance recently issued revised norms for the approval of deputation or tour abroad to all ministries asking them to spell out the budget provision for foreign tours expenditure after taking a 10% cut.
“It is an indication to all ministries that they should look at their foreign tour budget after deducting the 10% of the total amount,” said a senior home ministry official.
The new norms have also ensured that senior babus of the government will have a lot of explaining to do before going on a foreign tour.
For all those senior babus who look to go on tours abroad, the norms ensure they will have to explain why their officers at junior functional levels, such as directors and deputy secretaries, cannot be sent for the visit.
They will also have to seek clearance from the home ministry under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and political clearance from the ministry of external affairs, before embarking on a trip abroad.
All these explanations were not the part of an earlier pro forma issued by the ministry of finance.
Initially, the babus had to spell out the reasons for their visit but now it has been changed to them justifying the reasons behind their visits.
As part of the justification, those travelling abroad will now have to discuss the tasks proposed to be undertaken and accomplished during the proposed visit and the outcome to be achieved.
They will also have to indicate tangible or non-tangible benefits from the visit in ‘quantified terms’.