KOCHI: After Health Minister K K Shylaja, it is the turn of Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan to find himself in a spot of bother over claiming reimbursement for expensive eyeglasses.According to a reply received by Kochi-based RTI activist D B Binu, the Speaker had claimed Rs 4,25,594 in form of medical reimbursement from September 5, 2016 to January 19, 2018. Of that, `49,900 was for buying eyeglasses (`45,000 for lens and `4,900 for frame).As per Section 2(b) of the Members of the Kerala Legislative Assembly (medical facilities) Rules 1994, MLAs are given allowances for buying eyeglasses. But a fixed amount has not been specified. As per the Speaker’s order, `5,000 is allocated during the tenure of an Assembly for each MLA for expenses towards eyeglasses.
In response to reporters’ queries, Sreeramakrishnan said that he purchased an expensive lens following doctor’s orders. “I don’t consider medical expenses as lavish spending. Doctors prescribed an expensive lens for my eye-related ailment. I could only select the frame for the glass, which was not an expensive one,” he clarified.Earlier, it was revealed that Shylaja had spent `28,800 on eyeglasses and claimed government reimbursement.
At a time when the government is finding it tough to pay pension to former KSRTC employees and compensation to endosulfan victims, MLAs are spending `50,000 on eyeglasses, said Binu. “There won’t be an issue if MLAs buy eyeglasses with their own money. Instead, they are lavishly spending government funds,” he alleged.
In May 2017, the government had appointed the Justice James Commission to study and recommend steps for renewing allowances and pension of MLAs, Speaker and Chief Whip. In August, the commission filed its report. “However, the government has not implemented the commission’s recommendations,” Binu said.