Foreign travels must to discharge duties: Sharma

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma justified foreign visits by ministers contending that these are undertaken for official work.

New Delhi: Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Thursday justified foreign visits by ministers, which reportedly led to expenses of Rs 687 crore last fiscal, contending that these are undertaken for official work even though "metabolism goes for a toss".

He insisted that ministers do not want to travel but have to do so to fulfil their commitments.

"You pay huge price, your metabolism goes for a toss, your health is affected, your family life is affected, your routine, everything gets thrown out of gear. It`s not easy," Sharma told reporters here.

He was responding when asked to comment on a media report which quoted an RTI to say that Rs 687 crore were spent on travel of ministers in 2011-12. The expenses were Rs 56 crore in 2010-11.

"People have to discharge their duties. Some of us are required to travel. Who wants to leave home frequently? They are not going for vacations?," Sharma replied to queries on increasing expenditure on foreign visits by ministers.

Sharma said there are "huge commitment, bilateral and multilateral commitment, and it is very unfair when everything is, you know, projected in a very negative manner".

With increasing globalisation, India today has bilateral commerce with virtually every country and is also member of several important international like G20.

"I don`t see this question ever being asked of serving ministers in other countries. After all ministers of all the countries travel to India also," the minister said.