The Andhra Pradesh government, which is reeling under a severe financial crisis, has extended the ban on foreign visits of all ministers, officials, cadre and non-cadre officers by one year from today.
Chief Secretary S V Prasad issued an order to this effect on Thursday.
The ban on foreign visits by ministers and officials has been in force since 2005 and is being extended every year.
It is, however, followed more in breach.
“The ban exists only on paper and is seldom implemented. It’s only as a matter of routine that the ban has been extended by a year again,” a senior bureaucrat pointed out.
In the last one year, at least five ministers and 20 IAS and IPS officers visited foreign countries on “official” trips despite the ban being in force, the bureaucrat said.
As per the government orders, foreign visits could be undertaken only in “exceptional circumstances” wherein such trips are either sponsored or when an officer is nominated by the Government of India. Official training programmes abroad do not attract any ban, official sources in the General Administration Department here pointed out.
“The so called exceptional cases will have to be necessarily cleared by none other than the chief minister but in many cases officers are not following this norm,” a senior bureaucrat said.
Now, the government has constituted a high-level ’screening committee’ with the chief secretary as chairman to clear foreign visits by cadre and non-cadre officers.
Chief Commissioner of Land Administration, Special Chief Secretary (Environment and Forests), Principal Secretary (Finance) and Principal Secretary (General Administration Department) are the other members of the screening committee.