J and K's austerity measures fall flat

4 ministers are abroad on study tours

While Jammu and Kashmir government has announced austerity measures to reduce the burden on state exchequer, four of its senior ministers along with their favourite bureaucrats are on study tours to various foreign countries.

A senior official in the state general administration department on condition of anonymity told Deccan Herald that lakhs of rupees were being spent on these tours by the government.

Senior most minister in the Omar Abdullah-led cabinet, Abdul Rahim Rather who holds the finance portfolio is presently on a study tour to Japan and the US along with his sales tax commissioner Kifayat Hussain Rizvi.

Minister for rural development, parliamentary affairs and panchyati raj, Ali Mohammad Sagar has gone to Sri Lanka on a study tour.

Similarly, tourism minister Nawang Rigzin Jora and his deputy Nasir Aslam Wani along with commissioner tourism, Atul Duloo and managing director J&K Tourism Development Corporation are on a study tour to the US and Canada.

“Finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather has been issuing certain austerity measures for officials and the government departments during his annual budget exercises. But he has not been in a position to enforce those measures in letter and spirit,” a senior official in the ministry told Deccan Herald.

Interestingly, chief minister’s most trusted political advisor, Devindar Singh Rana is also away in the US on private visit these days.

“While tourism minister and his deputy along with their favourite bureaucrats frequently visit foreign countries under the garb of fetching tourists for Jammu and Kashmir, other ministers have gone for different reasons,” he added.

Sources said in 2011, former bureaucrat Mehboob Iqbal who was then commissioner PHE was deputed to visit Germany for a study tour when the former IAS officer was about to retire within two months.

The tour was arranged on the directions of PHE minister Taj Mohi-ud-din against the civil service rules, they added.People at the helm of affairs in finance ministry as well as finance department are reluctant to say anything on the subject on record.

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