Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on tuesday directed all public-authorities under Central Government including even President Secretariat to put all details of tours and travels on respective websites. This move is a direct result of loads of RTI petitions seeking details of tours and travels at public-expense.
The details of tour will include places visited, duration of the visit, size of the official delegation and total cost incurred during the trip. “The disclosures may be updated once every quarter, starting July 1, 2012,” the office memorandum issued by Sandeep Jain, from the department of personnel and training, said. Last year, the government spent Rs. 500 crore on tour expenses of Union ministers, including the Prime Minister. Tour expenses made up for half of the central budget for the PMO and the council of ministers.
In one of his letters, famous RTI Activist Subhash Agrawal says, “Making such aspects public will tend to make a self-imposed check by concerned ones to avoid misuse like was done by none other than former President of India Pratibha Patil when despite bitter-most criticism for already having spent rupees 205 crores, she went ahead with another such trip to South Africa etc in last days of her tenure cancelling earlier-fixed engagements just for a ferry-trip for her grand-children.”
He adds, “Study should be made for other common queries put through RTI petitions, and all such commonly queried aspects should also be directed to be put on websites. All public-authorities should be directed to follow practice of Railway Ministry to put scanned copies of all RTI petitions and responses on websites.”