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Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, has issued a missive to all ministries and departments in a bid to clamp down on study tours and training programs. In its circular dated 25 November 2014, government has clearly stated that prior approval of Screening Committee of Secretaries will be essential for all such tours irrespective of the rank of the officers and ministers. The actual wording o this memorandum is as follows.


What the memorandum says

Instructions have been issued by this Department from time to time on the need to curtail expenditure on foreign travel. In recent months it has been observed that Ministries/Departments have been proposing Foreign Study Tours (FSTs) of large delegations of officers as a part of training programmes. In keeping with the Government’s drive on economy and rationalization of expenditure and to have an objective assessment of such FSTs, it has been decided that prior approval of the Screening Committee of Secretaries would be required for all FSTs of delegations exceeding 5 members (irrespective of level/rank of officers), where Government of India is funding such tours and which are part of career training programme(s) or stand alone tours or otherwise.

Past instances of tours on frivolous ground have forced the government to take this step

Many instances of officials going abroad on the pretext of study tours have come into light in recent times, costing the exchequer heavily. These instances have been highlighted by the media to bring a bad name for the government. This is why the central government has decided to place restrictions on foreign tours on frivolous. Now all officers irrespective of their rank will have to secure permission from SCOS to go on a tour abroad.

All tours involving more than 5 members have to get approval from SCOS

This memorandum makes it clear that prior approval of the SCOS would be mandatory for all foreign tours where the number of delegations exceeds 5. This order is applicable on all such tours that are funded by government of India. This order is in line with the policies of this government that focuses on cutting down expenditure that is non essential. According to inside sources, central government aims to rationalize expenditure in keeping with its economy drive. Prime Minister Modi and his cabinet has decided to make an objective assessment of study and training tours to cut down on government expenditure.

Government has been announcing austerity measures in the recent past to give signals to its officers. Among these are the ban on first class travels and restricting foreign trips by officials to maximum 4 in a year. In fact, Modi government has asked its officers to explore the possibility of taking part in overseas events with the help of video conferencing. Modi government, soon after its formation, had passed an order that required officials to submit a proposal of their foreign trip 10 days in advance. They were also asked to submit a list of tasks they accomplished on such a foreign trip.

About Sanjay Tandon

Sanjay Tandon is a graduate engineer from IIT Varanasi. He has been writing as a freelancer for many years. He loves to write on various niches. He is passionate about politics and economy and spends his free time watching news channels. He is also an expert on relationships.

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