New work plan ends PM monopolyWith the Cabinet’s bill committee approving the work plan on medical expenses of VVIPs, the monopoly of Cabinet and prime minister to allocate the treatment amount to politicians and influential people has effectively come to an end.
With the Cabinet’s bill committee approving the work plan on medical expenses of VVIPs, the monopoly of Cabinet and prime minister to allocate the treatment amount to politicians and influential people has effectively come to an end.
Until now, the PM could unilaterally provide medical expenses through a Cabinet decision; and the amount would be as high as Rs5 to Rs10 million in many cases.
Health Minister Gagan Kumar Thapa said the work plan will check the trend of VVIPs making foreign trips for medical treatment.
The work plan has put the ceiling of Rs 1.5 million on the financial assistance from the state to the needy. Such assistance will be provided only once and the government’s medical board will take a decision if anyone requires treatment at foreign hospitals.
Under the new provision, vice-president, prime minister, speaker, chief justice and deputy speaker can get a grant of Rs1.5 million from the government. Former deputy prime minister and ministers, state ministers, assistant ministers, parliamentarians, office bearers of constitutional bodies will get a maximum of Rs1 million. Also, people from literature, arts, music, bureaucracy backgrounds and others who have made significant contribution to the society will be provided up to Rs500,000.
The treatment of VVIPs and VIPs should first be done in the country, the work plan states, “If the treatment is not possible in the country and the Cabinet shall grant the amount to the concerned person for treatment abroad on the recommendation of the Health Ministry.”
Elaborating on the work plan, Minister Thapa said, “Senior officials and politicians can go to any institutions in the world. But they need to pay that from their own pocket. But when the state has to pay the amount, it won’t exceed Rs1.5 million. Also, the government will make public the names of those who take the amount.”
They can go outside the country only if the medical board certifies that the treatment is not available in Nepal, said the health minister. The work plan has also made the medical board accountable. “Members of the medical board will face action if its certification saying that treatment is not possible in Nepal and is found incorrect,” it says. The medical board is chaired by the director of Bir Hospital with heads of hospital’s surgery and medicine departments as its members.
In the past, Rs 20 million from the state treasury was spent on former PM Sushil Koirala’s cancer treatment in New York in 2014. The government doled out Rs13 million to UML Chair KP Oli in 2014 for his medical treatments in Bangkok, Thailand. More recently, Sujata Koirala availed Rs 5 million in state funds for treatment overseas.