Goa government faces flak over tourism junkets
Posted on Jul 23 2014 | IANS
Panaji, July 23 : The Goa BJP government faced criticism from all sections after documents tabled in the state assembly here revealed Rs.13.24 crore were spent on tourism junkets in the state, since the party came to power in 2012.
The documents were tabled in the state legislative assembly Tuesday.
The government had earlier faced flak for sanctioning a Rs.89 lakh World Cup junket to Brazil.
The money has been spent on exotic international junkets ostensibly to "promote tourism" undertaken by three ministers - Dilip Parulekar (Tourism), Milind Naik (Power) and Mahadev Naik (Industries) and, Anant Shet, Ganesh Gaonkar, Subhash Phaldesai and Nilesh Cabral.
Civil society and commentators have condemned the act. Parulekar has defended the junkets to Portugal, Russia, Germany, UK, China, Finland, etc, claiming it was necessary to promote tourism in order to fetch cash-spending tourists to the state known for beach tourism.
"It's a marketing strategy. If we do not promote tourism, how will we get tourists? Some money has to be spent on foreign road-shows," Parulekar told IANS.
The foreign trips were undertaken from financial year 2012-14, even the Goa tourism ministry is gearing up for another Rs.4 crore junket to Spain to promote a popular feast celebrated in Goa, in the honour of a Spanish saint.
For now the government has claimed that the Spanish tour is on hold, following the scathing criticism of the World Cup junket.
The Congress has now accused the government of making merry at the cost of the state exchequer.
"Goa is already on the world map. Why is there a need for world tours?... This is a loot of the state treasury," says Congress spokesman Durgadas Kamat.
Goa attracts three million tourists annually, which includes half a million foreign tourists.
Even as the junket splurge has created a splash on the social media, civil society activists too have lashed at the government for wasting money on such trips abroad especially at "precarious financial times".
"Situation calls for the government to be prudent. The acts of ministers going on foreign jaunts is only burdening the state exchequer and should be avoided. This is something we cannot tolerate," says Yatish Naik of the Goa Parivartan Manch.
The Goa government was forced to cancel a Rs.89 lakh foreign junket comprising of ruling politicians to the World Cup in Brazil earlier this month due to a public backlash.
The ostensible objective behind the junket comprising of three cabinet ministers and three MLAs was to study "traffic management systems" in place in Brazil for the World Cup.