Goa's Spirited Online Weekly Magazine.

Privy purse?

It’s got to be that or, they are the ‘chosen ones’. ‘Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people’ (Exodus 19:5-6). What more can one say of our montris. The week before last I wrote that Rs 18,13,926 of your, by now very expendable, tax money was spent renovating the official residence of Digambar Kamat between June 8, 2007 and now.

To do up the official residence of the Home Minister, Ravi Naik, Rs 5,25,185 was spent. It went like this: Rs 4,17,843 went to paint the bungalow; add some repair costs to that. Installing an FRP (fibre reinforced plastic) cabin cost Rs 1,07,342. Now, why on earth do you think he would need that? As a swine flu shelter, you think? Rs 2,49,202 was spent to paint the bungalow (F-0-1) of the Health Minister, Vishwajeet Rane. Chosen ones? Indeed. In actual fact, Naik ordered the bungalow to be painted internally and externally but then shifted residence on October 21, 2007 to the bungalow called ‘Herambh’.


The Color of Money

That was the motion picture about a young pool hustler learning the tricks of the trade from an old pro, based on the novel by Walter Tevis. Paul Newman earned an Academy Award for his performance as the aging pool shark Eddie in this film, which was released in 1986. Where’s the connection? That’s not hard to figure out, but for the moment let’s say this is how you get hustled out of your tax money. Rs 1,03,779 was spent to paint (externally only) and to carry out ‘urgent repairs’ to F-0-2, the official bungalow of the Public Works Department Minister, Churchill Alemao. Rs 9,36,450 was incurred to carry out ‘various repairs’. Replacing a chandelier and a wall fitting in the hall cost Rs 24,817. A horizontal (!) water heater cost Rs 19,690. Rs 30,650 was spent to fit an air conditioner in a ‘separately constructed room’ in the (his) chamber at the Government Secretariat at Porvorim. That amounts to a whopping Rs 1,11,5,386.


Gory details

Now, this is the really, really frustrating part. Rs 4,97,292 of your tax bucks was spent to buy precisely 82 items for the official bungalow of Digambar Kamat. But what boggles the mind, are items like the two TVs (Rs 19,000+Rs 90,000) a refrigerator, folding ladder, and several wall clocks. So, who took away the earlier ones then? What happened to the original curtains also, because new curtains were bought for Rs 1,32,231. And, for crying out loud, why buy four wall paintings for Rs 76,000. I can understand our montris not wanting to use their predecessor’s towels and linen, but it does seem strange when you have to replace every single conceivable kitchenware, cookware, crockery and cutlery or, do they want to start with a clean slate, so to speak. Because, when you need a rice strainer (Rs 360), it does prove they start from the beginning. All one can is when someone else is being suckered, our montris become fastidious!

All this reminds me of the furore in Dilli over External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his deputy Shashi Tharoor staying in five-star hotels for the last three months. They both defended themselves saying they were picking up the tab. But even if one overlooks Shashi Tharoor (he did declare assets of nearly Rs 30 crores as a candidate from Thiruvanathapuram) and chalk it down to his earnings from his career as a diplomat with the UN and from his books, what was Krishna’s source of income considering he has been a career politician? To think he could afford Rs one lakh per day on the presidential suite at Hotel Ashoka for the last three months!! Am I giving our montris ideas? God forbid!


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