Islamabad — The National Assembly spent more than Rs. 13 million on the foreign medical treatment of its members or their relatives during the last government’s tenure.
Official documents sent to Media for Transparency by the assembly secretariat in response to a Right to Information request show the funds were spent on the treatment of two Members National Assembly (MNAs) or their relatives between 2013 and 2017.
According to the document sent by the National Assembly secretariat, US$30,000 were spent on medical treatment of Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s MNA Abdul Rashid Godil in 2015-16. He was treated in United States but the details of his hospital and treatment were not mentioned. The sum was equal to around Rs. 3.1 million according to the currency exchange rate at that time.
Mr. Godil was critically injured in 2015 when he was targeted by unknown gunmen in the Bahadurabad area of Karachi. He suffered six bullets to his head, jaw, and chest.
However, according to media reports, the National Assembly rejected Mr. Godil’s initial request for treatment abroad citing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s 18-year-old order that bars parliamentarians from being treated abroad.
More than £83,000, or around Rs. 10.5 million, were spent on medical treatment of former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MNA Sahibzada Nazeer Sultan’s wife in the United Kingdom.
The perks and privileges of government officials and parliamentarians have received criticism from different quarters in Pakistan in the past. It is believed that since public officials get expensive health treatment abroad, they do not strive to make domestic health facilities better.
According to the Salaries, Allowances and Privileges Act of 1975, the MNAs are entitled to medical facilities that are at par with the privileges of Grade-22 government officers.
Recently, the topic of medical treatment abroad was also discussed in the Senate. It was disclosed that former Minister of Environment and senator Mushahidullah Khan’s medical treatment abroad cost the national exchequer Rs. 2.7 million.
A 2016 audit report by the Auditor General of Pakistan, which found irregularities of Rs. 101 million in the financial affairs of the National Assembly, had claimed that four MNAs has claimed expenses of Rs. 12.6 million for their foreign medical treatment between 2008 and 2013.