Bengal govt in fix over MLAs' bills

Bengal govt in fix over MLAs' bills

The Congress and the Trinamool Congress legislators from the cash-starved West Bengal has claimed medical reimbursement varying between Rs 2 lakh to Rs 12 lakh, forcing Speaker Biman Mukherjee to set up a panel to deal with the issue.

This comes amid Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee wielding the austerity axe following plummeting value of rupee and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee holding tedious parleys with the Centre for a bailout package for Bengal.

“I've formed a four-member sub-committee of the MLAs' Entitlement Committee with the leader of the Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra as the convener. Other members are Rudranarayan Bhattacharya and K P Singh Deo of TMC and Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, government chief whip. The committee will look after the bills and make recommendations,” the Speaker said.

Mukherjee has reportedly written to the state government for a record of the medical schemes the state employees avail to reimburse the medical expenses.

When asked about the committee, convener Surya Kanta Mishra said: “I have been entrusted with a duty and I cannot say anything more than that.”

Party sources said several first-time legislators have also furnished bills quoting astronomical amounts, hinting at fraudulent practices. A Congress legislator from the North 24 Parganas has claimed about Rs 10 lakh for his treatment at a private hospital in Kolkata. According to the bills, he underwent MRI scan thrice a day while doctors charged Rs 1,000 per visit.

Another Congressman from Burdwan claimed Rs 6 lakh spent towards his wife’s heart treatment. However, the patient later died.

A Trinamool legislator from Hooghly, himself a doctor, claimed Rs 9 lakh as expense for his wife’s kidney transplant. The amount included the money paid to the donor despite illegal nature of such transactions.

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