Shillong, Dec 28: Reacting to news item published in a local daily about 15 MLAs going on foreign vacation at Assembly expense, the Assembly Secretariat has clarified that the proposed visits are on the invitation from the Phillipines Legislators Committee on Social Affairs, Vietnam Parliamentary Committee on Social Affairs and Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development in Thailand.
The visit to Bangkok has been arranged by the Asian Forum of Parlimentarians on Population and Development. During its stay in Bangkok, the delegation will be having a meeting with the Forum, and issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS. It will also be having a meeting with the Thailand Parliamentary Association.
Meghalaya Speaker, Charles Pyngrope, is the President of the Meghalaya Legislators Forum on HIV/AIDS and all the MLAs are members of the Meghalaya Forum.
Further, Manmohan Sharma is the Executive Secretary of the Indian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, and therefore, his presence is required while interacting in meetings with counterparts. He also recently accompanied the Vietnamese Parliamentary Delegation visit to Meghalaya.
Assembly Secretariat also justified that an office staff, an Assistant or Computer Typist, is required for secretarial assistance in the meetings and also to assist the Members of the delegation. It highlighted that even the Lok Sabha Secretariat and other Legislative Assemblies travels with such office staffs as well. It is for the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi to decide on the eligibility for accompanying Officer or staff, it was added.
The Assembly Secretariat maintained that it has followed due process for obtaining political clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, with copies to Lok sabha Secretariat and relevant Ministries. A copy is also given to the Resident Commissioner, New Delhi for taking up the matter with the Ministry of External Affairs, which is the usual practice for all foreign visit clearance from New Delhi
It is for the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi to examine on the request for consideration of the proposed official visits, and the Assembly Secretariat will take necessary action only after obtaining Political Clearance from New Delhi, a press note from the Assembly Secretariat stated.