THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Now, another minister of the state cabinet will board the flight to a foreign country. This time it is Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel who will embark on a two-day visit to the Maldives. The travel comes at a time when the frequent foreign visits of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other ministers have invited flak from the Opposition who allege that such tours will worsen the state’s fiscal stress. Jaleel along with four officers will be in Maldives on December 17 and 18.
According to the General Administration Department’s Political wing which looks after the foreign visits of the Chief Minister and other cabinet ministers in the state, Jaleel’s entourage consists of Higher Education principal secretary Usha Titus, APJ Abdul Kalam University pro-vice-chancellor S Ayoob, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) director Ramesh Unnikrishnan and Community Skill Park’s head T V Vinod. It also added that the journey was subject to clearances from the concerned union ministries.
When asked about the purpose of the journey, the minister’s office said, “The very purpose is for strengthening the higher education linkages between Kerala and Maldives. For the same, Jaleel will meet Maldives Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Hassan and other officilas.”
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told ‘TNIE’ that the expenses of the foreign tour and the benefits that the state gains from it was shrouded in mystery.
He also added that the foreign tour of the CM and his cabinet colleagues had aggravated the fiscal stress of the state.
“Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said that the state is facing acute fiscal stress. But the ministers including the CM with an entourage is visiting overseas frequently. If the visit is for the benefit of the state, why the government is maintaining a tight lip on the expenses and the benefits gained from such visits. It is not giving answers to questions in this regard in the assembly and to RTI pleas,” said Ramesh.