Panaji: The Goa government coughed up Rs 3.26 crore for hosting a day-long meeting of the 37th Goods and Services Tax Council chaired by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and held last month in a star resort, RTI data showed.
Information obtained through the Right to Information Act by city lawyer Aires Rodrigues from the Commissioner of State Tax said that a local event management agency hired for carrying out various arrangements for the Council meeting is due to be paid Rs 1.95 crore and Rs 50 lakh was spent on hiring of 200 taxis for the event held on September 20.
Finance Ministers of all states and Union Territories along with their key aides attended the Council meeting here in the state capital.
"The five-star Double Tree by Hilton hotel where the meet was held has cost Rs 50,69,600 which includes accommodation and meals for the delegates, including the hotel's presidential suite which cost the tax payer Rs 59,500 a night.
"Rs 10,16,000 has been spent towards food and beverage. The government spent a further Rs 30 lakh on those dignitaries who stayed in Cidade-de-Goa, another five star resort located near Panaji," Rodrigues said, quoting RTI documents.
This was the first time that the GST Council meet was held in the coastal state.
State Congress President Girish Chodankar has described the expenditure on the day-long meet as "mammoth and wasteful".
"The government is cash strapped and is surviving by borrowing loans by pledging Goa government securities. Such lavish expenditure on a one-day event is extremely shocking and unnecessary," Chodankar told reporters.
Last month, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had rejected reports that the state was headed for a debt trap, but added that the government was paying Rs 3,500 crore to service the existing state debt of more than Rs 15,000 crore.