Rs 22 Cr spent on Goa's foreign junkets, Vijay exposes Parulekar!

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 24 March 2015 16:32 IST

Goa government was found in a soup today. Spent Rs 22 crore on 32 international events abroad in the last three years, but failed to get enough number of international tourists to Goa.

In fact tourism minister Dilip Parulekar was completely on a backfoot when asked why pre-audit of such extravagant spending was not conducted as assured by former chief minister Manohar Parrikar.

“We are taking care of every penny,” claimed chief minister Laxmikant Parrikar, who rushed to rescue his cabinet colleague, but failed to reply to the issue of pre-audit.

Fatorda independent MLA Vijay Sardesai systematically raised the issue in the Assembly today, reminding the House of Babu Naik, former Margao MLA and opposition leader of ‘70s.

The issue obviously pertained to the foreign junkets of ministers and MLAs of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, almost 14 in number. But not a single event held locally in India they attended.

The figures provided by Goa government states that Rs 22 crore were spent on 32 international events and Rs 20 crore spent on 72 domestic events, a total of Rs 42 crore.

This included trips to London, USA, Dubai, Hungary, Netherlands, Australia, France, Russia, Ukraine etc.

When Sardesai had raised the issue in the monsoon session last year, Parrikar had agreed to conduct pre-audit of the foreign junkets in order to control unnecessary expenditure.

“But now Parulekar says government would conduct the audit after the event is held. Why going back on Parrikar’s assurance? What are you trying to hide? A scam?” asked Sardesai.

Instead of replying to the question, Parulekar went on giving explanations of how the foreign visits are helping the state to attract more foreign tourists.

“The season was very bad due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but our efforts bore fruits”, claimed Parulekar.

According to the statistics he provided, Goa received 23.70 lakh tourists in 2012, 31 lakh in 2013 and around 40 lakh last year. Even the number of foreign tourists has increased.

“In the last two months, we have received 1.5 lakh foreign tourists”, he said.

He also did not buy Sardesai’s argument that the number of foreign tourists increased due to Old Goa exposition.

But Parulekar could not provide any statistics of country-wise and year-wise foreign tourist arrivals, except through the charter flights and FIT – registration at air ports, railway stations and PWD toll booths.

“How to get the total statistics? Is it possible”, asked Parulekar, who otherwise boats of making Goa tourism hi-tech.

In order to control the expenditure in crores, Sardesai demanded that the plan to make the Goa Tourism Development Corporation the Special Purpose Vehicle for tourism promotion be scrapped and brought under finance department.

Chief Minister Parsekar, who is also the finance minister, however bluntly refused to accept the demand.

 

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