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Lok Sabha passes Bill for huge hike in MPs' salaries

Saturday, August 28, 2010

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
NEW DELHI (PTI): The much talked about bill to hike salaries of MPs by over three times from Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000 and doubling two of their key allowances to Rs 40,000 each was passed in Lok Sabha today.

During the debate on the Salary, Allowance and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2010, a strong demand was made for setting up an independent body to decide on their future pay.

As many as 10 members participated in the discussion on the bill and the demand for such a body was voiced by senior BJP leader L K Advani, who was supported by other members.

Replying to the debate, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said, "There is a need for setting up a mechanism for revision of members' salary and pension.

On the demand for enhancing pension to Rs 25,000, Bansal said, "Pension is not static, rather it is dynamic and increases proportionately to tenure of a member."

Citing an example, he said the pension of Sharad Yadav (JD-U) would be more than his salary as an MP.

Earlier, Advani wondered why there was a four-year delay in setting up the special mechanism for deciding MPs' pay when the Cabinet had approved it in 2006.

"It (special mechanism) should be set up soon and the mechanism should be transparent. It is not a complicated issue and the government should announce setting up of the independent pay panel for MPs before this session ends on Tuesday," he said, asking the government to not further delay it.

The senior BJP leader said time and again MPs had been campaigning for a hike in their salaries. He said the open demand for better pay was "not ideal."

Moving the bill, Bansal admitted that "delay" in setting up the special panel, which would be done very soon after consultation with all sections of the House on modalities and arriving at an universal acceptance on the issue.

Dome said it was "derogatory" and "not dignified" for the members to increase their own salaries, adding that it sent a wrong message to the people.

He also called for deferring the bill till the independent body to fix salaries of MPs was set up.

Sanjay Nirupam (Cong) said there was no difference among MPs on the need for a hike in their salaries, but the differences existed over how it need to be done.

Supporting the idea of having an independent pay panel, Nirupam suggested that the MPs should agree to the principle of 'no work, no pay' and that when House proceedings stood disrupted for the day, the members should not accept the daily allowance.

He also suggested fixing of a 50 per cent compulsory attendance for MPs before they became eligible for receiving their monthly salaries.

Shailendra Kumar (SP) sought a Secretariat for every member to take care of their office activities.

Dhananjay Singh (BSP) referred to the US Congress and said every Congressman had an office with secretarial staff. The same model should be adopted for Indian Parliament too, he said.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said the plight of former MPs was pitiable and sought more pension for them.

Pinaki Mishra (BJD) said the people were upset with the MPs mainly due to frequent disruption of the House and for absenteeism.

"We have to self govern and if we don't, it will be an act of betrayal," he said, noting that it should be the last pay hike that MPs gifted themselves.

Raghuvansh Prasad Singh ( RJD) asked the government to consider the 11th and 12th Lok Sabha that had not completed the five-year term as "full terms" and extend the pension to MPs, who were not re-elected to the present House.

He did not agree with Nirupam's suggestion of 'no work, no pay', saying the day the House stood disrupted, he felt that he had done additional work that day, as "extra constitutional" means were required to raise people's issues.

Singh also took a dig at Left parties, who had walked out, saying it would be adopting "double standards" if they oppose the salary hike, but return to receive it later.

The government's decision last week to defer salary hike recommended by the Joint Committee had invited protests from a section of MPs led by Lalu Prasad (RJD) and Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), who had dubbed it as an "insult" to members and held a mock Parliament.

Following the protests, Government bought peace by raising the Constituency and Office allowance by Rs 5,000 each.

The provisions for raising salary, daily allowance and minimum and additional pension would involve a recurring annual expenditure of Rs 103.76 crore.

One-time expenditure of Rs 118 crore would be incurred on account of arrears of salary and pensions from May 18 last year to July this year.

Besides, doubling of the constituency and office expense allowances would involve an annual recurring expenditure of Rs 38.50 crore.

The rail facility of spouse of a member to travel any number of times in first class air-conditioned coach or executive class in any train from the residence of a member to Delhi and back.

The spouse can also travel by air whenever Parliament is in session subject to a maximum of eight trips in a year.

The repayable advance for purchase of a vehicle was also increased from Rs one lakh to Rs four lakh with interest on the loan as applicable to government servants.
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