Who pays when a government official visits a foreign Country?
State visit, official visit and working visit — did you know that there are differences among them? In a nation that values transparency against government corruption, knowing the difference can help us be more vigilant of the government’s expenditures.
The Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office issued a press release that describes the difference among the three types of visits:
A state visit happens when a head of state is invited by the host country’s head of state. The host country must show the highest level of hospitality, honour and formality to the visiting head of state. The host country usually extends the use of the State Guest House for the visiting official, and is in charge of shouldering the cost of the visit. In this respect, the host country usually:
- Conducts military honours and decorations
- Holds a meeting between the two heads of state
- Gives a state luncheon or dinner
There may also be an exchange of symbolic gifts, a special legislative session to address the host country’s law-making body, visits to national memorials and other cultural activities.
As a member of Asean, the Philippines complies to a tradition wherein it hosts a new Asean leader in a state visit. The visiting official participates in cultural activities like laying of a wreath at the Rizal Monument in Luneta and attending arrival honours at the Malacañan Palace.
President Aquino was rendered this honour when he visited South Korea in October of 2013. Aquino was the first head of state to visit South Korea that year since President Park Geun-Hye took office in February.
An official visit happens when a high-ranking official (cabinet level to head of state) is invited by a host government. The host country is only expected to shoulder the cost of the visit and to give honours if the head of state visits. Honours are not expected for cabinet officials and luncheons or dinners are not required.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende’s visit to the country earlier this year is an example of an official visit. The invitation was extended as a way of thanking the Norwegian government’s help for the recovery and rehabilitation of areas hit by typhoon Yolanda. The foreign minister visited Tacloban and conducted bilateral talks during his three-day stay.
A working visit may happen without an invitation from the host country. The host country doesn’t pay for the working visit, and honours and luncheons are not required. During a working visit, a government official meets his or her counterpart to discuss issues concerning the two countries.
President Aquino’s visit to the 40th Asean-Japan Commemorative Summit last year is a type of working visit where Asean leaders discussed the issue regarding Chinese claim on West Philippine Sea, East Sea and Yellow Sea. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s recent visit to witness the signing of the Comprehensive Bangsamoro Agreement is also a type of working visit.