Goa's Spirited Online Weekly Magazine.

Flyaway Peter, flyaway Paul

 It has been some time since good, simple folks like you stuck on terra firma, got to read about the globe trekking exploits of our ministers and bureaucrats which I had covered extensively up to October 2007 (flying expenses only) in this column.  Your government does not give you flight-paid-for holidays; though government employees do get a pretty fancy dole called leave travel allowance.  But then, they are the chosen ones, not you.  Here are some more recent flying exploits of our official flying class in 2007-8 and 2008-09, this time giving the entire expenditure incurred on the junkets.  Fasten your seat belts please and be ready for takeoff seated in what I would think is your balcao armchair I guess you can call your home simulator, because my friend, simulation is all you get while they get to do the real flying.

Have country will fly

Anupam Kishore, joint secretary (DMU) –Singapore –Rs 1,05,895; Dattaram Sardessai, joint secretary (finance) – Zurich, Dusseldorf – Rs 1,44,057, Dubai – Rs 82,000; Dayanand Narvekar, minister, finance/IT – London, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro – Rs 5,14, 054; Anand Prakash, development commissioner – Zurich, Dusseldorf – Rs 1,68,254, Dubai – Rs 82,000; Uddipta Ray, secretary (finance) – Kathmandu – Rs 33,033; Alban Couto, advisor to government – Hong Kong – Rs 19,466; VK Jha, secretary (industries) – Dubai Rs 98,262, South Korea – Rs 25,816; Prakash N Dessai, chairman, GPSC – London – Rs 2,95,393; Agnelo Fernandes, chairman, EDC – New York – Rs 1,84,454.

Department of Tours

 The Department of Tourism will not solve the beach shack problem (it has rigorously restricted licensing shacks without justification) despite all the official baloney about helping enterprising Goans; it will do nothing about keeping the beaches clean either; provide pedestrian paths on any of the roads along Goa’s celebrated but much abused and battered beaches.  Grandiose plans have been made at great expense by consultants from outside Goa and put on ice by virtually every incumbent minister of tourism.  Simultaneously, successive Goa Tourism Develoment Corporation (GTDC) chiefs have come out with some insipid inspiration or the other on how to improve tourism.  Some after expensive study tours abroad with officials in tow.  Many of these plans you know well, as they have been often repeated.  These I think are gems, you might have forgotten. 

 In mid 2006, the GTDC said it intended to upgrade its chain of resorts to three-star.  With a dozen resorts, it wanted to add swimming pools to its existing properties along the coastline.  Its chairperson, Fatima D’Sa, said, “We plan to make ours one of the best beach resorts in the country and create a niche in the hospitality sector across the country with low tariffs.”  LoL.  Remember, the ‘Heritage House Scheme’, well all it did was inherit dust on some shelf in the tourism department.  Or, a mantelpiece, maybe!  So, why do our montris and babus travel abroad, which is why the tourism department can also be called department of tours?  They of course swear these are missions to bring more tourists to Goa.  Put that down as flights of fancy.  But that’s Goa in a nutshell. Just look at the front page of your daily each morning.  It’s all about ageing has-beens and mediocre actors, producers flying into Goa for the International Film Festival of India.

 Flights of fancy?

 Francisco (Micky) Pacheco, minister, tourism/housing – London – Rs 6,66,875, London – Rs 3,32,637; JP Singh, chief secretary – Shanghai – Rs 62,956, Frankfurt, Lisbon – Rs 2,50,794, Frankfurt, Berlin – Rs 4,94,981, New York – Rs 3,73,499, incurring a total expenditure of Rs 11,82,230; M. Moddasir, secretary (tourism) – Dubai – Rs 1,57,424, London – Rs 1,18,798, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai – Rs 1,40,046, Zurich, Madrid, Frankfurt – Rs 1,48,463, Shanghai – Rs 55,274, Dubai, London – Rs 1,75,652, incurring a total expenditure of Rs 7,95,657; Pamela Mascarenhas, dy. Director – Berlin – Rs 1,37,503; Arvind Loliyenkar, director of tourism – New York - Rs 72,738, London – Rs 1,68,997; Elvis Gomes, director of tourism – Lisbon 1,36,497; Anthony J D’Souza, officer on special duty (O.S.D) – Lisbon -1,64,452; Anthony J D’Souza, O.S.D – Lisbon, Madrid – Rs 2,14,749, VGS Navelkar, assistant director – Rs 1,62,649; Elvis Gomes – Dubai – Rs 60,943; JN Sangodkar, assistant director – Berlin – Rs 1,74,847; Elvis Gomes –Moscow – Rs 97,495; Hanumant Parsenkar, deputy director – Almaty, Kazakhstan – Rs 73,068; Elvis Gomes – Moscow – Rs 1,10,610; London – Rs 1,33,865; Pamela Mascarhenas –Lisbon – Rs 1,31,854; Swapnil M Naik, director of tourism – Berlin – Rs 1,48,852; Pamela Mascarhenas – Berlin – Rs 1,36,990; Francisco (Micky) Pacheco – New York – Rs 1,84,454; Sanjit Rodrigues, MD, GTDC – Sri Lanka – Rs 48,088; Shyam Satardekar, chairman, GTDC – London – Rs 3,06,381, Portugal – Rs 2,28,918, Moscow – Rs 2,07,197; Benjamin Braganza, MD, GTD – Portugal – Rs 1,69,818, Moscow – Rs 1,66,669.  All that dizzy travel cost a huge Rs 6,41,5,033.  The garbage meanwhile accumulates in hideous heaps alongside the roads and lanes that lead to the beaches that may have cost less to clean than the GTDC chairman’s trips to London and Lisbon.

 Notice too, that the most trips are to Dubai, London and Lisbon.  My humble opinion is that NRGs might come from Lisbon, but tourists?  So why go there to woo them when they will come anyway.  And Dubai?  Is everyone going there to learn how Dubai has crashed world financial markets this week after it sought a six-month reprieve on debt payments that risked triggering the biggest sovereign default since Argentina’s financial crash in 2001?  And London, could it be to learn how to wind up Big Ben.  Why go abroad ritualistically each to attract tourists?  Remember we conquered that frontier, evidenced by the number of charters that land at Dabolim, at least 25 years ago?

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