Six Goa MLAs three of whom are ministers are being sent on a 10-day trip to Brazil to watch the football World Cup at a cost of Rs 89 lakh to the state government in a decision that has kicked up a storm.
The opposition Congress today called the trip a "wasteful expenditure" and sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention to "stop the junket".
But Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar justified the "study tour" saying it will help in Goa's preparations for the Under-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017 since the tourist state could be one of the venues.
"They have been asked to go, not that they wanted to go themselves. Of course they were happy to go," he said.
According to state government sources, three ministers --Ramesh Tawadkar(Sports), Avertano Furtado (Fisheries, Milind Naik(Power)--and as many MLAs will be undertaking the 10-day trip to Brazil starting from July 1 as part of a "study tour". The accompanying MLAs are Carlose Almeida, Glen Ticlo(both BJP) and Benjamin Silvea(Independent).
The state's sports department has sanctioned Rs 89 lakh for the trip, a senior officer said.
Congress has come down heavily on the government calling the trip as "loot" of the state exchequer.
"Goa government has been on a spree to loot the public exchequer. When state is reeling under financial crisis, what is the need for such a junket?" Goa Congress spokesman Durgadas Kamat alleged.
He said the Congress has written to the prime minister seeking his intervention to check "misuse of funds."
"While state has been facing financial crunch due to stoppage of mining, the state government is involved such a wasteful expenditure. We would like you to intervene in the matter and stop this junket," said Kamat, quoting the letter by Goa Pradesh Congress Committee.
Also, Kamat said that it is surprising that no government officer or any sportsman is accompanying this "all exclusive delegation of politicians."
He said the state has soccer experts like Brahmanand Shakhwalkar and Bruno Coutinho, who have played for the country, and could have been sent to see the matches.
Their experience could have been used for furthering the game in the state, Kamat said.