Karnataka minister spends Rs 1.16 crore for treatment, govt to foot the bill
BANGALORE: Karnataka government has decided to
reimburse the medical bill to the tune of Rs 1.16 crore incurred on Housing
Minister Ambareesh for his treatment, triggering a controversy over spending
tax payers’ money.
The 61-year-old actor turned politician was admitted
to a hospital on February 21 after he complained of breathlessness and was
later shifted to Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore for further treatment.
He returned here on April 11.
According to a notification issued by the Department
of Personnel and Administration (protocol) on July 11, government will
reimburse the amount he paid for treatment at Mount Elizabeth hospital.
As per the Medical Attendance Rule of 1958, the
maximum reimbursement normally is Rs 5 lakh, provided ministers avail treatment
within the country if facilities are available.
When asked about this, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah,
who also heads the Finance Department, told reporters that “In special cases we
can give. It is the discretion of the government.”
Energy Minister DK Shivakumar said the government had
arranged for his shifting to the Singapore hospital and moreover Ambareesh is
“an asset” to Karnataka apart from being an actor. “The government had arranged
for a special flight. He was a former Union Minister and an actor. He is an
asset to Karnataka,” Shivakumar said.
BJP leader and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar
said it was not new and earlier governments had also taken such decisions.
However, it was left to the government how much amount should be reimbursed, he
“Government has taken a decision. On other occasions
also, the government has paid the amount. Whether it is higher or lower – (it)
is left to them,” said Shettar, the Opposition Leader in the Legislative