ISLAMABAD: As many as 15 members of the Punjab’s provincial assembly with a combine asset value of more than Rs1.1 billion have claimed medical expenses worth Rs2.7 million from the national exchequer during last one year and a half, official documents obtained by The News revealed.
Surprisingly, barring one, all MPAs who claimed medical expenses from the tax-payer’s money belong to ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N).The certified documents of the Punjab Assembly secretariat show that medical bills ranging from Rs10,800 to Rs 551,817 were claimed by 15 members of provincial assemblies (MPAs) since June 2, 2013.
A review of the assets statements submitted by these 15 MPs with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) revealed that they own assets and cash worth over Rs1.1 billion in total yet they never fail to claim even the smallest amount of medical bill from the national exchequer.
Interestingly, according to government’s own record around 38 per cent of the rural population in Punjab is deprived of basic health facilities but the public representatives from the province seem more interested in claiming their own medical bills from the tax-payers money than enhancing the public health facilities. The certified information obtained earlier by this correspondent had revealed that there are no doctors in 619 basic health units of Punjab.
The information was provided to this correspondent by the Punjab Assembly under the Right to Information and Transparency Act 2013. Earlier this month, the ruling PML-N’s MPA Sheikh Alauddin had claimed in his speech on the floor of Punjab Assembly that some black sheep among the assembly staff were embezzling tens of millions of rupees annually through bogus medical bills in the name of various lawmakers.
Speaking on a point of order on February 11, the MPA from Kasur had claimed that corruption is being carried out in connivance with the Services Hospital employees and drug store owners. He was of the view that lawmakers have no right to enjoy free medicines from the nation, if their voters are not able to get free medical care.
Another Punjab MPA, however, said provincial legislators are legally entitled to get medical facility and reimbursement of medical bills is their right. These members, he said, work honestly for the welfare of the people of their areas. Rs2.7 million medical bills in one and half year is not a big amount.
Waseem Abbasi,The News
Monday, February 23, 2015
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