Prime Minister Narendra Modi is back in town from his five-nation trip. Once the government clears the bills, you too can know how much the eight-day tour cost the exchequer.
The Prime Minister’s Office has finally decided to make public the expenditure incurred on chartering planes for Modi’s foreign visits, and set the ball rolling with information relating to his first foreign visit to Bhutan last year after taking charge.
Modi’s air travel for his two-day Bhutan visit in 2014 had cost the exchequer Rs 2.47 crore, nearly half of the Rs 4.46 crore that his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s two-day visit to Himalayan kingdom had cost in 2008.
Singh’s second visit to Bhutan for the Saarc Summit in 2010 had turned out to be much cheaper at Rs 2.78 crore for the three-day visit.
Foreign policy has been a thrust area for the Modi regime, with the PM out of the country for nearly 63 out of the last 415 days (15%). In contrast, Manmohan Singh was abroad for 8.5% of the days that he was PM while Atal Bihari Vajpayee spent less than 7% of his time abroad.
The PMO’s proactive disclosure of Modi’s travel bills comes just months after it had thrown out information requests seeking details on the expenditure on Modi’s foreign visits.
It had then insisted that the requests were “too vague and wide”, provoking transparency activists to attack Modi’s office for undermining the right of information law.
The PMO set the record straight this week when it started uploading the expenditure on chartering planes for Modi and his two predecessors, Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Modi’s just-concluded tour of Central Asian countries was his 13th trip since May last year, and his fifth where he visited three or more countries in one trip. “I’m from Ahmedabad where we have a saying, ‘single-fare, double journey’,” he had told HT this April. Air travel accounts for the biggest chunk of expenditure in a PM’s foreign visit.
Apart from Bhutan, the PMO hasn’t put out the expenditure incurred on his other visits. The PMO website said it had either not received the bills from the airlines or was yet to process them.