Facing outrage and mockery, the Goa ministers were earlier packing their bags to witness FIFA World Cup 2014 on tax payers’ money, have now decided to keep the trip personal, and funded at their own expense.
Goa Fisheries Minister Avertano Furtado made it clear on Friday that the ministers would go on Brazil trip at own expense.
The Brazil visit of the six MLAs, including ministers Ramesh Tawadkar (Sports), Avertano Furtado (Fisheries) and Milind Naik (Power), sparked a controversy after the state sports department sanctioned Rs 89 lakh for the tour. That prompted the opposition Congress to term the trip a ‘wasteful expenditure’ while seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to ‘stop the junket’.
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“The six (of us) legislators met last evening. We decided to go to Brazil on our own without taking money from the state government. We don’t want to spend money from the state treasury. We don’t want to be a burden on the state coffers,” Furtado said.
He said that the decision was unanimously taken by the six of them, including also the legislators Benjamin Silva (Independent), Glen Ticlo and Carlose Almeida (both BJP), after the media created a “hype” over the tour. “It was a big hype created that we are going at the cost of the state exchequer. All six of us decided that we will pay from our own pockets and visit Brazil,” said Furtado, a former goalkeeper of Salgaocar Football Club.
All six MLAs are expected to meet Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar later in the day to convey their decision.
Defending the decision to send the MLAs on a state- sponsored 10-day trip, Parrikar on Thursday said that the tour was ‘an investment by the state government which has declared soccer as a state sport’. “We are looking at this as an investment. Goa has declared football as a state sport. The delegation, which has been approved by the state government, has MLAs who are actually footballers. The government considers this to be an investment,” Parrikar had told reporters on Friday.
“The decision (to send a delegation) has been taken in the interest of the state. Recently, we held the Lusofonia games, which had Brazil as a participating country. The current trip is a continuation of the organisation of Lusofonia games,” he had said.
Meanwhile, former footballer Bruno Coutinho said the Goa government would not learn anything from the World Cup and further said that he was hurt by Goa government’s decision.
The Opposition had also slammed the move. “We will organise the cricket world cup and IPL in a flawless manner, they can learn at home,” said Sanjay Jha of Congress.
(With PTI inputs)