Central government employees may get to visit some SAARC nations barring Pakistan under new Leave Travel Concession (LTC) rules being finalised by the Centre.
"Employees will be able to avail LTC to visit some SAARC countries. A proposal in this regard is being finalised by the government," Union Minister Jitendra Singh told .
LTC allows grant of leave and ticket reimbursement to eligible central government employees.
The decision has been taken to promote people-to-people contact and boost tourism among the SAARC regions, he said.
"The government has been taking many steps to promote trade and travel. This is one of such steps to further boost ties among SAARC nations," said Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a group of eight nations comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and India.
Officials in the Personnel Ministry said the LTC facility will not be available for visiting Pakistan and few other nations due to security concerns.
The draft for new LTC rules is in initial stage and it will be finalised after inter-ministerial consultations, they said.
"One of the major decisions taken by the Narendra Modi government soon after it took over was to extend the facility of conversion of 'home town' LTC to visit states of Jammu & Kashmir, northeastern region and Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar for a further period of two years up to September 25, 2016," the Minister said.
The Personnel Ministry has been regularly reviewing LTC rules to allow government employees to visit unexplored places like northeast. The ministry is also considering allowing government servants not entitled to travel by air to fly in economy class.
The ministry has of late put in place measures to check misuse of LTC facility. CBI is probing fake travel bills scam (LTC scam) allegedly involving certain government employees and present and former Members of Parliament.
"All the ministries or departments are advised to bring it to the notice of all their employees that any misuse of LTC will be viewed seriously and the employees will be liable for appropriate action under the rules.
"In order to keep a check on any kind of misuse of LTC, ministries or departments are advised to randomly get some of the air tickets submitted by the officials verified from the airlines concerned with regard to the actual cost of air travel vis-a-vis the cost indicated on the air tickets submitted by the officials," according to an order issued by the Personnel Ministry.