MPs get Rs.10,000 more, but further salary hike rejected (Third Lead)

August 23rd, 2010 - 7:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) Budging a little, the government Monday decided to further hike the non-taxable allowances of parliamentarians by Rs.10,000 a month, but rejected their demand for a 500-percent increase in their salaries.
The decision to raise Rs.5,000 each in the constituency and office expense allowances of MPs was taken at a cabinet meeting here under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The meeting was held to reconsider and suitably amend the MPs’ salary hike bill, which the cabinet had cleared last week and which seeks to double their perks and increase their salary by 300 percent.

The bill was severely opposed by a section of parliamentarians who were demanding a 500 percent increase in their pay of Rs.16,000 a month.

Sources told IANS that the cabinet gave its nod to a hike in the non-taxable perks but decided not to alter the 300 percent raise in their monthly salary - from Rs.16,000 a month to Rs.50,000.

The latest decision comes two days after Congress trouble shooter and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met the protesting MPs. Though it remains to be seen if the parliamentarians agree to the additional hike, the sources said Mukherjee has already taken them into confidence.

Political parties have reacted differently to the move.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it is against a “trade union-like approach” to the issue.

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said a hike in the emoluments was necessary but the government should evolve an index-based or some other mechanism to decide the quantum and timing of hike and MPs should not be making recommendations themselves to hike their salaries.

“Whatever state the economy is in, the BJP does not want to be insensitive at all. The MPs are not feeling overjoyed. They are uneasy that they have to clear the hike in their own salary,” Sitharaman told IANS.

Nationalist Congress Party spokesman D.P. Tripathi welcomed “the long overdue” move. “The MPs need basic facilities. The criticism of hike is not correct.”

Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said the government had “found a middle road” to resolve the logjam.

CPI-M leader Basudeb Acharia said the party is against the hike. “It is not right for MPs to get the house adjourned for a hike in their salaries,” he said, adding that people were already coping with price rise.

The government’s move on Friday to hike the salary and double some other perks had left MPs from various parties dissatisfied. They even stalled Lok Sabha proceedings demanding more money.

The protesting MPs led by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad said it was less than the Rs.80,001 as recommended by a parliamentary committee, which had proposed that MPs should get at least a rupee more than top bureaucrats.

An MP at present gets Rs.16,000 as monthly salary and a daily allowance of Rs.1,000 for each day when parliament is in session or taking part in house committee meetings. This has also been doubled.

Besides, a member is entitled to a constituency allowance of Rs.20,000 a month and an office expense allowance of Rs.20,000 each month. Sources said the government has hiked each of these allowances by Rs.5,000.

MPs’ conveyance allowance has gone up from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.4 lakh. Spouses of MPs are entitled to free train travel from their place of residence to Delhi. They also get up to eight free plane tickets from their place of residence to Delhi.

The bill seeking amendments to the Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, will now be tabled in parliament - most likely Wednesday to be passed by both houses before the hike is actually implemented.

The increase will be given with retrospective effect since the beginning of the current Lok Sabha, the 15th, which means MPs will get arrears from May 2009.

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