Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Govt. spends 1.75 Crores on IFTAR parties: Swamy writes to Minister

Many different departments of the Government of India have been spending public money on Iftar parties . Despite a clear directive from the ministry of finance not to spend public money on such religious parties , various departments continue to do that. According to a news item published in August 6, 2012 issue of Indian Express Online  ( Full news item reproduced here from Internet), the PMO, External Affairs Ministry ,LOk Sabha & Rajya Sabha Secretariat and the CPWD have spent Rs. 1.75 Crores over the past 10 years.    Janata Party President Dr Subramanian Swamy has asked the External Affairs minister Salman Khurshid to ask whether the minister would consider similar funds  for parties related to Hindu festivals also . 

The  text of the letter written by Dr Swamy and the original news item ,are reproduced here. 

 July 2, 2013.

Mr. Salman Khurshid,
Minister of External Affairs,
South Block,
New Delhi.

Dear Salman,

            With this letter I enclose a news item posted online in Indian Express of August 6, 2012 regarding the expenses out of public funds by the Ministry of External Affairs and other Departments  for meeting the expenses on Iftar parties.   I write to ask whether you would consider also providing funds for the celebration of Holi and Deepavali or will such expenses be confined only for Iftar parties.  If so, why so?
            Best Regards,
                                                                        Yours sincerely,
                                                                    Subramanian Swamy

MoF says can’t spend public money on iftar, but govt spent Rs 1.75 cr in 10 yrs
Shyamlal Yadav : New Delhi, Mon Aug 06 2012, 01:00 hrs
The Prime Minister's Office, External Affairs Ministry, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secretariats and Central Public Works Department (CPW-D) have spent Rs 1.75 crore on 18 iftar parties over the past 10 years even though the Ministry of Finance (MoF) maintains that public funds can't be used for such events.

In fact, responses of different departments to an RTI application filed by The Indian Express, seeking details of expenses on iftar parties — not a few of which were hosted in the past decade — reveal a lack of clarity about rules regarding such expenditure. While the MoF's Department of Expenditure said expenses on iftar parties are not allowed from the state exchequer — it also said the host departments didn't seek its permission for such parties — other departments maintained otherwise.

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat, which has spent Rs 22.75 lakh on five iftar parties since 2007-08, said: "Yes, the secretariat bears expenses incurred in this regard." When asked under which rule, it replied: "There is no rule. It is as per the convention." It, however, added that "expenditure is met on shared basis in the ratio of 2:1 between the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and the Ministry of External Affairs."
The Lok Sabha Secretariat said spending public money on iftar parties was allowed and that it has spent Rs 5.83 lakh on two such parties in 2010 and 2011. "Expenditure on iftar parties is met from the hospitality grant of the Lok Sabha Secretariat," it added.

The PMO's response to the RTI request, on the other hand, was interesting: its reply to almost all queries about iftar parties was that "information sought is not a part of records held by this office". The PMO has hosted six iftar parties since 2004 at a cost of Rs 1.03 crore, which, it said, was borne by the External Affairs Ministry (MEA) and the CPWD.

The MEA, on its part, said it has spent about Rs 41.48 lakh on 10 iftar parties, including the ones hosted by the PMO, since 2004. But to all other queries on the matter, it replied: "No specific information available".

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