A Parliamentary panel looking into the issue of salary and allowances of MPs may revisit a number of its recommendations on Monday when it meets in the wake of criticism of its proposals like hundred per cent hike in salary, and constituency and office allowances.
When contacted BJP MP Yogi Adityanath, who heads the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament, told PTI that the panel is yet to submit its report and no decision has been taken so far.
“We will meet on Monday,” he said, when a “final” decision is likely to be taken.
The panel was in favour of a large number of demands of members, including 100 per cent hike in salary, constituency allowance and office allowance of MPs, an approximately 75 per cent raise in pension of ex-MPs apart from facilities for their “companions” in place of “spouses”.
However, since the issue kicked up a controversy and a number of political parties criticised the move, there has been a re-think and the panel is likely to drop some recommendations. Some of the proposals have also not found favour with the government.
Some panel members are of the view that since the issue has raked up a controversy, the panel should delay a decision in the matter. Rising prices and agrarian problems in various parts also weighed on them.
JD(U) MP K C Tyagi, a member in the panel, said he will request the Chairman to put off the meeting for the time being. “It is not the appropriate time to decide about the salary of MPs. It may send a wrong signal to people that MPs are adamant on increasing their salaries and perks anyhow”.
Tyagi said he was in favour of raising the pay and perks of parliamentarians but it should be done by an independent body with MPs not playing any role.
An independent body should be constituted to decide the salary and perks of MPs “keeping in mind the benefits announced by various boards and commissions appointed for revision of wages”, he said.
When pointed out that some MPs from BJP and Congress have themselves spoken against hiking the salaries, Tyagi said the views of members from these parties on the panel are important in the matter.
Opposing the proposal to hike salaries, BJP MP Shanta Kumar has said the government should instead enhance MP Local Areas Development Fund.
“In the present scenario, the salary provided to MPs is sufficient to meet their daily needs,” he said.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel said it was “not the right time” to raise lawmakers’ salaries when “farmers and jawans” are not getting their dues, apparently referring to agrarian problems and the ‘one rank, one pension’ demand of ex-servicemen.
CPI-M’s K N Balagopal, who is a member of the panel, told PTI he is of the view that MPs themselves should not decide their salary and allowances and that it should be done through an independent mechanism. It is learnt that Balagopal has recorded this view in the panel’s proceedings.
Parliamentary Affairs Ministry has, in its action taken note on the recommendations of the committee on June 24, rejected 40 of the 65 proposals with “not accepted, no need for any change and not agreed” notings.
The government has expressed its readiness to consider the demand for a hike in salary, constituency and office allowances and raising the expenditure limit on furniture, but it is not in favour of other recommendations.
The salary and perks of the MPs were last revised in 2010.
Currently an MP gets a basic salary of Rs 50,000, besides Rs 45,000 each toward constituency and office expenses, totalling Rs 1.4 lakh per month. The panel wanted to double it to Rs 2.8 lakh per month.
The ministry put in “not accepted” category the demand for “establishing a permanent executive mechanism/institution to study the various norms and other relevant issues and to give recommendations on salary, allowances and other facilities to the MPs from time to time”.
Regarding the demand for enhancing the amount under the MPLAD scheme, the ministry replied that it has forwarded the matter to Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation for appropriate action.
The proposals “Not Accepted” by Parliamentary Affairs Ministry include grant of one fourth of airfare also to those MPs who travel by train for official purposes, increasing the number of their air travel from 34 to 48, grant of 1st AC train facility to companion, housing society for members, provisions for housing loan, official vehicles and guest house facilities in state capitals, cabins and work stations in Parliament House premises.
The other proposals the government did not accept are: providing cars to the Chairpersons of Parliamentary Committees during inter-session and session periods, ten economy class air tickets for ex-MPs and exemption to them from paying toll besides facility for AC first class travel with spouse or Companion, canteen facility for MPs for purchase of items of daily use etc.
Regarding the demand for enhancing constituency allowance, car loan limit and salary to Personal Assistants, the ministry said these will be considered in due course. It also said action is being taken with regard to enhancement of pension of former MPs.
Since some other demands fell outside the purview of Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, it has referred them to HRD Ministry, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Health, Niti Ayog and others.