Current Affairs

Tax Payers Money Wasted for MLAs Orientation Programme: RTI Activist

The lunch and refreshments served at the two day orientation programmme conducted for Goa’s MLAs on June 8th and 9th has cost the tax payer Rs 2, 13, 225. This has been revealed in the information obtained by Adv. Aires Rodrigues under the RTI Act from the Goa Legislature Secretariat.

The total expenses on the orientation programme amounted to Rs 4,87,880 of which Rs 1, 25,550 was spent on Air Tickets for the guest speakers and Rs 25,000 on the honorarium paid to them while another Rs 53,265 was spent on Hotel accommodation.  Rs 14,190 on mementos given to guest speakers while Rs 42,450 was spent on printing, stationery, folders and banner. The video recording cost Rs 8,000 while the flower bouquets for the occasion cost Rs 6,200.

The Legislature Secretariat has informed Adv. Aires Rodrigues that there is no record of which MLAs attended the orientation programme as no attendance of those attending was taken. The current 40 member Goa Legislative Assembly has 19 first time MLAs.

The faculty who addressed the orientation programme were Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and Umesh Upadhya both RSS leaders, Dr. Subhash Kashyap former Secretary General of Lok Sabha, Shankar Narayan, Additional Deputy Comptroller and Auditor  General (CAG) and Advocate General of Goa Atmaram Nadkarni. Interestingly the file notings do not give the designation or any details of the two RSS leaders Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and Umesh Upadhya who were invited and hosted by the
State. Surprisingly despite the central government’s directions that all officials should travel only by economy class,  Shankar Narayan of CAG which is India’s Supreme Audit Institution traveled by business class with his airfare from Delhi to Goa and back costing the Goa Government Rs 60,722.

The records show that the Goa Government also paid Rs 8678 towards airfare of a BJP leader Ravindra Sathe from Bombay to Goa and back besides Rs 10,767 for his stay at Hotel Mandovi. The records show he shared the room at Hotel Mandovi with another BJP leader Atul Bhatkhalkar.  It is however not known as to what was the role of Sathe and Bhatkhalkar at the orientation programme and neither do their names figure in the list of dignitaries approved by the Goa Government.

The file notings reveal that the Goa Legislature Secretariat had proposed that the two day orientation be conducted in the Legislature complex at Porvorim. However this was over ruled by Speaker Rajendra Arlekar who directed without giving any reasons that the programme be held at Hotel Mandovi at Panaji and that the dignitaries be housed at Marriots. It is also not known why the dignitaries were later accommodated at Hotel Mandovi.

The documents obtained under the RTI further reveal that five MLA’s chose to spend the night of June 8th at Hotel Mandovi at the tax payer’s expense despite the orientation being held only from 10 to 4pm. Of the five MLAs who stayed at the hotel, Sanvordem MLA Ganesh Gaonkar topped the list with his room bill for the night being 15,123 while the room bill of Industries Minister Mahadev Naik and Sports Minister Ramesh Tawdkar was Rs 2620. Deputy Speaker Anant Shet’s bill was Rs 2972 while Vasco MLA Carlos Almeida’s bill came to Rs 4464.

Questioning as to why the orientation programme was not held at the Assembly complex as was proposed, Adv. Aires Rodrigues has today stated that the amount spent on lunch and refreshments being exorbitant it needed to be probed whether alcohol was also unofficially served at tax payer’s expense.

Adv. Rodrigues has also wondered why the guest speakers had to be flown in when there were enough highly competent secular persons in Goa who could have ably guided the MLAs on legislative rules and procedures.

Demanding that every paisa from the State exchequer has to be judiciously spent, Adv. Rodrigues has recalled that this government which had promised a Parivartan had started its innings on a wrong footing by squandering 11 lakhs of tax payer’s money on its swearing in ceremony held on 9th March this year at SAG grounds at Panaji.

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