Union Cabinet ministers owe about Rs. 460 crores as dues to the cash-strapped state-owned Air India for their visits to foreign countries.
While in 2009-10, the total foreign travel expenses incurred by the Union government in respect of its ministers amounted to Rs. 61.10 crores, the expenses came down to Rs. 37.17 crores during 2010-11. During the current financial year till December 16, 2011, the Cabinet ministers spent nearly Rs. 25 crores on their foreign travels.
In the past two years, Ministers of State in the Union Government incurred expenses of about Rs. 8 crores on their foreign travels. Till December 16 this year, the junior ministers’ foreign travel cost Rs. 3.80 crores to the government.
In written reply to a question by Chandrakant Khaire and Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that accumulated dues to Air India, including pending payments of Rs. 435 crores for previous years, run up to Rs. 460.78 crores.
He said Ministry-wise expenditure information was being collected and would soon be tabled in the House. He added that the Cabinet Secretariat has issued guidelines from time to time regarding foreign visits by ministers which include obtaining clearance from the Prime Minister for their trips.