KATHMANDU, Sept 15: Following widespread criticisms over the trend of VVIPs and VIPs going to foreign countries for medical treatment on government cost and the misuse of the facility, the Finance Committee of the parliament has directed the government to provide assistance only to those who are not in a position to foot the medical bills themselves.
The parliamentary panel's instruction has come following calls from the legislators to place measures for curbing misuse of the government facility of financing the medical bills meant primarily for the poor people.
Recent reports of the government decision to bear medical cost of VIPs including former president, prime ministers, ministers and other eminent personalities have drawn criticisms from all quarters.
The panel has instructed the government to amend the 'Working Procedure Related to Citizens Relief, Compensation and Financial Support, 2071' to include a host of provisions, including that the facility will be provided only if the VIPs, VVIPs or other recipients cannot afford the cost. The committee has also directed the government not to exceed the medical cost ceiling mentioned in the existing provision.
While the working procedure has fixed the amount that the government can provide, the government has been providing money arbitrarily to the VIPs and VVIPs by exploiting 'loopholes' in the working procedure. The working procedure also allows the government to provide additional funds for some 'powerful people' through cabinet decision, citing 'special circumstances'.
The parliamentary panel has instructed the government to remove such provision from the working procedure to plug such loopholes.
It has also instructed the government to fix the maximum amount that the government can provide as medical subsidy to the incumbent President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice and Speaker, among others, and reimburse them the fund only after making decision through the cabinet. “The Ministry of Health and Population should initiate the process of medical treatment of VVIPs and VVIPs after seeking consent of the Ministry of Finance,” the instruction of the Finance Committee reads.
The house panel has told the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers to make necessary amendments to implement its instructions within a month.
Speaking at the meeting, Minister for Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara said that the lack of 'one-door policy' has also made it difficult for effective and proper utilization of the state facility. "Various ministries take the proposal of paying medical bills of various peoples on their own. So the Ministry of Finance is bound to provide the fund," he added.
Listening to Mahara's complaints, the parliamentary panel has directed the government to ensure that any proposal of funding medical bills should be forwarded in the cabinet meeting only by the Ministry of Health and Population.