Government says it is for 300 percent MPs’ pay hike (Second Lead)

August 17th, 2010 - 10:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) The government Tuesday said it was ready to hike the salary of MPs by a whopping 300 percent after several members staged noisy protests in the Lok Sabha over the issue.
“The government is ready to table the bill (for hiking the salaries) as early as possible,” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee assured the house as Lalu Prasad took the lead in demanding an immediate salary increase.

Mukhereje pointed out that a hike could be done only through legislation.

“A bill has to be brought to amend the Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament Act, 1954. We are trying to bring the legislation in this session,” Mukherjee told MPs.

He said the bill needed a nod from the cabinet, which Monday deferred a decision on the matter with some ministers saying a steep salary hike now would be unfair considering the drought conditions in parts of India.

“We are fully aware of the sensitivities of the issue,” he said,

Tempers flared in the Lok Sabha during a two-hour adjournment at noon as Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad protested against the delays in the proposed salary increase.

As soon as zero hour began, the RJD chief raised his voice.

Suddenly, political rivalries were buried as he was joined by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his colleagues as well as MPs from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Shiv Sena and Trinamool Congress.

Some Congress MPs came out in support of the RJD president’s demand for “a fair deal”.

Left MPs distanced themselves from the protests. The Communists are opposed to the idea of parliament deciding salary hikes of its own members. They favour an independent commission to take the decision.

Rajya Sabha member and CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said the government had promised to look into the demand of setting up a mechanism way back in 2006 for deciding hikes in salaries of MPs.

“The CPI-M has opposed the concept that MPs should decide their salaries. The CPI-M volunteered and withdrew from the committee of MPs (which recommended hike in their salaries),” he said. “We will not be party to any such decision.”

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members remained silent during the protests in the Lok Sabha, where Speaker Meira Kumar stayed neutral.

“You saw the turmoil in the house… When different opinions are there, for a speaker, who is supposed to be neutral, to express her opinion will not be proper,” Meira Kumar told reporters outside Parliament House.

At present an MP gets Rs.16,000 a month as salary but the parliamentary affairs ministry suggested raising it to Rs.50,000 as against the Rs.80,001 recommended by a parliamentary panel.

The panel has said the MPs should get at least a rupee more than what secretaries in the government draw.

Besides the base salary, an MP also gets a daily allowance of Rs.1,000 for each day when parliament is in session or taking part in house committee meetings.

A member is also entitled to a constituency allowance of Rs.20,000 a month and an office expense allowance of Rs.20,000 each month.

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