All the babus who are all too eager to host foreign delegates at the government’s cost will have to think twice now.
The government, as part of its ongoing austerity drive, has barred officials from using government money to host any foreigner coming to India to attend conferences or seminars.
According to a circular issued by the Cabinet Secretariat, if at all officials wanted to play host, then they will have to get prior permission from the Finance Ministry or Cabinet Secretary.
“No commitment for bearing the travel/accommodation cost of participants from foreign countries for participating in seminars/conferences should be made without prior approval of Cabinet Secretary,” says the circular issued earlier this month.
The note also says that there have been many occasions where ministries commit themselves to such support even if there is no reciprocity or mutual agreement.
As part of the austerity drive, the government had put restrictions on foreign travel of ministers and official delegations and had put expenditure curbs on holding national or international seminars.
Cutting down on such expenditure, in addition to a total ban on creation of plan and non-plan posts, was expected to save the government at least `1,000 crore.
It is learnt that what has prompted the government to issue the order is that the department of expenditure had found that some ministries had organised international conferences and paid for travel and accommodation of foreign delegates where it was not allowed.
“There have been a few instances where it was done without approval of either the Expenditure Secretary or the Cabinet Secretary. Hence the circular,’’ said an official.