Wednesday, June 03, 2015

RTI plea reveals: Official expenses during Modi's visit to US in September 2014 Rs 9 crore, but no MoUs signed

By Our Representative
A right to information (RTI) activist has calculated that several RTI requests filed to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), including his own, suggest that Rs 9 crore were spent during Narendra Modi’s much-publicised US visit in September 2014. However, it did not lead to any concrete result -- the activist cites a Government of India document which says that "there were no memorandums of understanding signed during Modi's visit to the US."
Quoted by a news site, the RTI activist, who reportedly did not want to reveal his identity for unspecified reasons, says that he had filed his first request on December 14, 2014 seeking expenses incurred by Modi during his trip to New York and Washington DC.
In response, on February 23, 2015, the activist was told, "by the Prime Minister's Office, "In connection with the Prime Minister’s visit to New York during September 2014, this mission has booked an expenditure of Rs 5,09,66,491.”
The reply states that Modi had spent around Rs 5.1 crore in New York alone, when he visited the United Nations Organization. This made him to file another RTI plea on January 7, 2015, to which the PMO replied suggesting that the expenditure incurred by the Indian embassy Washington during PM’s visit to New York in September 2014 was close to Rs 1 crore.
The replied said, “On behalf of the Embassy of India, Washington DC, (the expense) was US $1,42,261.61 equivalent to INR 88,15,421 and the same has been debited to Emabassy of India, Washington DC.” Over and above this, the activist says, the Indian Embassy in Wasington "also paid over $5,000 or Rs 3,05,700 towards Prasar Bharti’s expenses, also reflected in the RTI reply."
In yet another reply, the activist claims, the PMO had "mentioned the expenditure of over Rs 3 crore during the same US visit, thereby taking the total cost to over Rs 9 crore", adding, however, "The real cost could have been much higher, but the PMO has ‘not been honest’ in divulging all the details."
The activist told the news site, Janta Ka Reporter, ”It’s been a painstaking process to get these information. They are very reluctant in divulging any expense information about the PM’s visit. I had requested for the total cost incurred on PM Modi’s visit till date and the number of MoU signed by him. Unfortunately, all I have got so far expense details on his New York trip, and that too in installments.”
In a reply preceding all these, the PMO, the activist said, "had clarified that Modi had ‘not signed any MoU’ during his US visit", adding, the however, the only thing which was widely reported about "Modi’s maiden US visit as India’s prime minister was his speech at Madison Square before an audience largely consisting of Indian diaspora."
It is not known what were the expenses of Modi's Madison Square show and who paid for him. A large number of those who attended the show were sent from India to the US for the programme organized by a section of the diaspora leaders.

No comments: