Sunday , 24 March 2019

Empanelling 2 agencies with tourism dept: Ajgaonkar’s role under scanner

PANAJI: Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has come under scanner due to the recent inclusion of two event management agencies namely Mumbai-based Goldmine Advertising Ltd and Panaji-based Sean Ad Event, under the empanelled list of the department of tourism, without following codal procedures and even overruling the advice of the secretary for Tourism Sheo Pratap Singh.

Highly-placed sources informed ‘The Navhind Times’ that on the instruction of the Tourism Minister, the department of tourism had moved a proposal to include the above-mentioned two event management agencies in Category A under the empanelled list of the department.

“The proposal was however outright rejected by the secretary for Tourism stating that such additional inclusions can only be made by inviting tenders, and following all codal procedures duly,” the sources maintained.

As per the sources, this observation was subsequently overruled by the Tourism Minister, who directed his department to take onboard both the new event management agencies.

This development has now created an atmosphere of concern among the senior staff of the department of tourism, who fears a backlash on the decision from the Lokayukta, court and Comptroller and Auditor General’s Office.

The state of affairs in the tourism department has presently reached such a level that the event management agencies in the empanelled list of the department are carrying out various works without issuance of proper work orders. In fact, such orders are issued much after the works are completed and events organised. This is in clear contravention of the rules and guidelines issued by the Comptroller and Auditor General, and likely to attract stricture for gross violations.

In response to a tender floated by the department of tourism on July 7, 2017, a number of event management agencies had applied for a place in the empanelled list of the department. Following the evaluation of the creative and technical presentation by these agencies along with their financial bids, the state-level Marketing and Promotion Committee, after its meetings held on September 14 and September 15, 2017, had selected 7 such agencies under Category A and 6 under Category B, for being placed under the empanelled list.

Subsequently, the department of tourism had issued appointment letter to these 13 agencies after taking government approval and approval of the finance department vide UO No 1400042430 dated October 9, 2017.

Meanwhile, various tourism stakeholders have time and again raised concern over the gross irregularities, mismanagement and corruption in the department, which has resulted in a lull in the state tourism industry.

Furthermore, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) had written to the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar spelling out the name of a senior officer of the department of tourism, and alleging that this officer was demanding 30 per cent commission from various empanelled event management agencies towards works awarded to them.

The TTAG had also alleged gross harassment of the small-time traders in the tourism sector.

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