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CM, ministers on private trip says CS
Correspondent KOHIMA, JUL 7 (NPN):
Published on 8 Jul. 2010 12:07 AM IST
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Against the backdrop of comments and criticism over the trip to South Africa by chief minister Neiphiu Rio, five cabinet and a parliamentary secretary, Nagaland chief secretary Lalthara clarified that the eight-member delegation including press secretary to the chief minister went on their own and not as an official delegation.
He said since the state government has not sponsored the trip for the eight members, it must have been privately funded he told Nagaland Post when contacted. Lalthara also said the chief minister Neiphiu Rio while seeking permission from the government of India, in his letter had clearly indicated that the purpose was a private visit.
It may be mentioned that an eight-member team led by chief minister Neiphiu Rio included- home minister Imkong L. Imchen, planning, veterinary & animal husbandry minister T.R Zeliang, power minister Doshehe Y Sema, agriculture minister Dr. Chumben Murry, health and family welfare minister Kuzholuzo Nienu, parliamentary secretary for rural development Pangnyu Phom and press secretary to chief minister Abu Metha. The team left Nagaland on July 3 for South Africa to witness the ongoing World Cup. The delegation reached South Africa and is expected to return latest by July 16.
Meanwhile, attendance in many office establishments was reportedly thin on Wednesday giving rise to speculation that it could the direct result of the World Cup match played last night. Many fans skip their offices to compensate their lost sleep.
Cong slams trip
The trip has come under attack from the opposition Congress party who accused the ministers of enjoying a ‘holiday’ when the state is reeling under an acute financial burden and the budget session due later this month.
“The visit would cost the state exchequer dearly and it is all public money,” said Nagaland state Congress president I. Imkong said according to IANS.
The chief minister, before leaving for the junket, said it was a ‘holiday package’ without elaborating on the finances involved.
Interestingly, the chief minister, who also holds the finance portfolio, will present the state budget during the session beginning July 22. The state last year had a deficit budget of Rs.4 billion.
“Even this time it would be a deficit budget to the tune of millions and still you find the chief minister and half of his cabinet partying in South Africa,” the Congress leader said.
It was reported that the eight-member team would make the most of the junket by visiting places of interests in South Africa apart from being at the Soccer City Stadium for the finals.
“After all the ministers are taking a break for few days,” a close aide of the chief minister told IANS requesting not to be named.

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