Meghalaya CM justifies expenses of Rs 399 cr incurred in fight against COVID-19
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma said that his government has nothing to hide on the expenses incurred in the fight against COVID-19.
"In today's RTI (Right to Information) age, everything is open; everybody can go to the details and find out what is happening. There is nothing to hide," Sangma told reporters here on Monday.
Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong had recently announced that Rs 399 crore was incurred by the state government in the fight against COVID-19.
The COVID expenses had raised many questions with civil society organisations demanding "transparency and accountability" on the funds spent in these last few months.
Admitting that there are certain allegations about essential items like food, the Chief Minister said that the government had ensured that good quality food was given to the people.
"As a government, it is our responsibility to take care of our own people. It is easy to analyse and say why this has happened. We ensure that our people are taken care off. We ensure that the best services are given to them. We ensure that testing continues even though it cost us Rs 30 crore; even though other states are charging from the citizens," Meghalaya Chief Minister said.
He also said that the Government had spent around Rs 50 crore to help more than 1.5 lakh daily wage-earners.
"We had gone ahead (to) acquire the PPE kits and other equipment at that point of time when there is (a) shortage in the market. We felt strongly that we can take a chance. Today we have enough PPEs which will last till March next year," Sangma said.
He said that his government did all that it could when the situation was war-like and with the limited resources the State had.
It may be pointed out that the Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) - a civil society organisation in Meghalaya, had asked the National People’s Party (NPP)-led government to be “transparent and accountable” about the Rs 399 crore “supposedly spent” on confronting the public health crisis in the State.
In a letter to the Chief Minister last week, Angela Rangad of the TUR, while highlighting the breakup of the expenditure as released by the government and reported in the media, raised questions about the funds spent.
“These numbers hide more than they reveal. For instance, let us look at assistance to labourers, daily wage-earners, BPL families, to the tune of Rs 51 crore. If we take the government's figure, then approximately 2,42, 857 persons got cash support of Rs 2100 each in their bank account,” TUR said.
TUR, in a survey of unorganized sector workers in Shillong, found that very few labourers, daily wage-earners, BPL families received the cash support, she said.