Public cold to MP salary hike proposal

August 18th, 2010 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) The proposal for a 300 percent salary hike for MPs is unsurprisingly unpopular among the public, who have seen their personal budgets shrinking as the inflation index climbs steadily.
“After all the frills, a cavalcade of motor cars, free accommodation, travel… what do our MPs need a hike for,” asked Anil Yadav, a 41-year-old auto driver in the capital.

Yadav is constantly worried as to how his daily earning will cover the cost of his son’s tuition fees, rising vegetable prices and various essential expenses. And after hearing about the proposed salary hike for parliamentarians, he was certainly not amused.

On Tuesday, the central government said it was ready to hike the salaries of MPs by 300 percent.

Currently, an MP draws a monthly salary of Rs.16,000 per month in addition to Rs.1,000 for each day when parliament is in session or for 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.

“After all that we are going through (crushing inflation), to see our elected representatives proposing a price hike for themselves is quite disheartening but not totally unexpected,” says Rajesh Ranjan, 37, a cart puller who arrived in Delhi 14 years ago from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.

In a vehement attack on the proposal, a central government employee - Sangeeta Kohli - said the MPs have not done anything to justify this sharp hike.

“Don’t these people have a soul? How could they be so audacious? If the government agrees to their demand, then this would be one of the biggest blunders in the history of independent India,” said Kohli, who has stopped travelling in auto-rickshaws in the wake of hike in auto fares.

Her views were echoed by Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research: “The proposed salary hike is uncalled for and shows the insensitivity of the MPs to the problems of the poor. When funding for essential projects is becoming scarce, this hike is an unjustifiable extravagance at the expense of the taxpayer.”

Kumari added she was pleased to hear that some cabinet ministers had the sensibility to try and postpone the process in view of the current economic situation.

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