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Karnataka government has decided to reimburse the medical bill to the tune of Rs 1.16 crore incurred on housing minister Ambareesh for his treatment, triggering a controversy over spending tax payers' money.
The 61-year-old actor turned politician was admitted to a hospital here on February 21 after he complained of breathlessness and was later shifted to Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore for further treatment. He returned here on April 11.
According to a notification issued by the Department of Personnel and Administration (protocol) on July 11, government will reimburse the amount he paid for treatment at Mount Elizabeth hospital.
As per the Medical Attendance Rule of 1958, the maximum reimbursement normally is Rs 5 lakh, provided ministers avail treatment within the country if facilities are available.
When asked about this, chief minister Siddaramaiah, who also heads the Finance Department, told reporters that "In special cases we can give. It is the discretion of the government."
Energy minister DK Shivakumar said the government had arranged for his shifting to the Singapore hospital and moreover Ambareesh is "an asset" to Karnataka apart from being an actor.
"The government had arranged for a special flight. He was a former Union Minister and an actor. He is an asset to Karnataka," Shivakumar said.
BJP leader and former chief minister Jagadish Shettar said it was not new and earlier governments had also taken such decisions. However, it was left to the government how much amount should be reimbursed, he said.
"Government has taken a decision. On other occasions also, the government has paid the amount. Whether it is higher or lower - (it) is left to them," said Shettar, the opposition leader in the Legislative Assembly.