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Minister Thapa becomes target as government draws flak

  • Brushes aside resignation call, vows to continue fight
  • Medical allowance to Sujata

While the government decision to provide Rs 5 million to Nepali Congress leader and former minister for foreign affairs Sujata Koirala is drawing flak from several quarters, a fare share of criticism has been directed to Minister for Health Gagan Thapa.
After social media users took to Twitter and Facebook to rebuke Thapa, the minister on Monday said “it is unfortunate” that his efforts to stop the trend of doling out funds from the state exchequer for the treatment of VIPs had gone in vain.
Koirala has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has already left for Singapore for the treatment.
A Cabinet meeting on Sunday decided to provide Rs 5 million to Sujata.
Though the proposal for such medical allowances should have been made by the Ministry of Health, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi had tabled the proposal.

The decision was made amid public outcry.
None of the ministers spoke about the decision on Sunday after the Cabinet meeting. Minister for Information and Communication Ram Karki, also the government spokesperson, just read out other Cabinet decisions and parried questions about the decision to provide Rs 5 million to Sujata. It is learnt that the decision was taken after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal told the Cabinet meeting that he had already spoken with Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba [about the matter]. “It is a matter of health of a senior leader,” Dahal is learnt to have told the meeting. The decision was taken despite reservations from some Cabinet members, it is learnt.
Minister Thapa has prepared a guideline to put a ceiling on medical allowances to be provided from the state coffers. As per the guideline, a maximum of Rs 1.5 million could be doled out depending on the nature of ailment. The proposal is under consideration at the Prime Minister’s Office. Some of those who have heaped criticism on Minister Thapa have even gone on to say that he should step down for failing “to keep his word”. Thapa, however, has defended his position, saying: Giving up and walking is not a logical choice, as it only makes it easier [for others] to continue bad old habits.
Sujata, however, is not the first politician to have claimed excessive privileges. There is a long list of VVIPs who have claimed medical allowances. The list comprises former prime ministers, ministers and other politicians. Recently, a government decision to provide Rs 6 million to former president Ram Baran Yadav too had run into controversy.
Published: 15-11-2016 08:40

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