Goa government has asked its four MLAs, including a cabinet minister, to reimburse the money spent on booking tickets to Brazil to watch the football World Cup, even as the legislators left for the South American country to witness the ongoing mega sporting event. Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) Director Sandip Jacques told PTI here that the four legislators have been asked to reimburse the money by July 31. “We have written letters asking them to repay the money which was spent on their tickets booked by the SAG,” he said.
The four legislators — Avertano Furtado (Fisheries Minister), Benjamin Silva, Glenn Ticlo and Carlose Almeida left for Brazil yesterday on their ten-day long tour. The then proposed 10-day trip for six MLAs to watch the World Cup in Brazil costing Rs 89 lakh to the state exchequer, had kicked off a storm last month. The SAG had booked tickets for the six legislators. However, facing a relentless opposition assault over “wasteful expenditure” and “bowing to public sentiments”, the Goa government had later cancelled their trip.
While the four legislators had decided to themselves foot the bill for the visit, without taxing the state exchequer, the SAG had cancelled tickets of two ministers– Ramesh Tawadkar (Sports Minister) and Milind Naik (Power Minister)- as they refused to be part of the tour. According to Jacques, the money for the tickets for the tour had been sanctioned before the state government cancelled it.
“The money had already reached the travel agent before the formal decision to cancel the tour came in. Now, we will get it reimbursed (from the four MLAs),” he said. Responding to media criticism, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had cancelled the tour last month. Parrikar had also asked the state chief secretary to draft proper guidelines for the foreign trips by the ministers and officers.