The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Salary, Allowances & Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020, by voice vote.
The Bill, moved by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Pralhad Joshi, proposes to reduce certain allowances of MPs for one year, to supplement the financial resources of the centre to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, the Bill seeks to amend:
- the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 to reduce the salaries of MPs by 30%
- Rules under the 1954 Act to reduce constituency allowance and office expenses allowance of MPs.
Significantly, an Ordinance to this effect was promulgated in April this year and the Bill seeks to replace the Ordinance.
The Bill, if it becomes an Act, will be made effective from April 1, 2020 for a period of one year.
The Bill was largely supported by all Members, as a 'symbolic step' for public welfare. However, there was a consistent demand to restore Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).
The MPLAD scheme was formulated in 1993 to enable MPs to recommend development works in their constituencies "with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt need". It was recently suspended by the Central Government for 2 years in view of the economic impact of COVID-19.
Seeking its revival, members said that the MPLAD funds could be used by MPs for welfare of their constituencies during the pandemic. YSRCP's Midhun Reddy remarked that MPLAD fund should rather be increased so that the members can meet the rising demands of people for health-related purposes.
Some members also asked the Government to prioritize funds to tackle the pandemic and it should refrain from any further investments in its Central Vitsa Project (for renovation of the existing Parliament building).
During the debate, it was highlighted that the move will save approximately Rs. 54 crores, which less than 0.001% of the special economic package announced by the Central Government, in view of the pandemic.