Iftar parties – Can public money be spent on them?
As a result of multiple RTI applications filed at various officers, it has come to light that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secretariats and Central Public Works Department (CPWD) have spent Rs 1.75 crore on 18 Iftar parties over the past 10 years. even though the Ministry of Finance (MoF) maintains that public funds can’t be used for such events.
The Department of Expenditure (which is a part of the Ministry of Finance) has said expenses on Iftar parties are not allowed from the state exchequer and no permission was sought from it.
The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has informed that they have spent Rs. 22.75 lakh on five Iftar parties since 2007-08, as per convention.” Expenditure is met on shared basis in the ratio of 2:1 between the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
The Lok Sabha Secretariat has informed that Rs. 5.83 lakh has been spent on two Iftar parties in 2010 and 2011 and the expenditure is met from the hospitality grant of the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
The PMO hosted six Iftar parties since 2004 at a cost of Rs 1.03 crore, and the expenses were was borne by the MEA and the CPWD. The MEA has spent about Rs 41.48 lakh on 10 Iftar parties, including the ones hosted by the PMO, since 2004.
It indicates a lack of clarity about rules regarding such expenditure. Iftar parties are organised all over the country including the state governments. Is their transparency in the public money spent on them?