Members of opposition parties also questioned why the union government was taking away MPLADS funds for two years while projects related to central vista was continuing without any hindrance while there is pandemic in the country
New Delhi: Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill to reduce the salaries of lawmakers by 30% for one year keeping in view of austerity measures related to exigencies arising due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, almost all non-NDA (National Democratic Alliance) parties raised strong objection to the suspension of the MPLADS fund for two years.
Members of opposition parties also questioned why the union government was taking away MPLADS funds for two years while projects related to central vista was continuing without any hindrance while there is pandemic in the country.
“The central vista project must be cancelled, and more ventilators must be brought for the common man in this nation. Why is the government not reducing its expenditure to make sure that the costs come down?" questioned Supriya Sule of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The move is significant because several lawmakers said that the suspension of funds related to MPLADS or Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme could translate to causing impediments in ground level work in their constituency. The union government on its part has said that the move was temporary and was needed in the unprecedented scenario.
“Take away all our salaries but give back MPLADs fund. Why should MPs be made target when ministers can do any amount of work. We are getting small small work get done in our party…if possible infact the MPLADS fund should be increased. Instead of making token gestures, I think the union government should cut down on bigger expenses," Saugata Roy, senior Trinamool Congress leader sad in the Lok Sabha during discussion on the Bill.
Pinaki Mishra of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) too said that no one ‘grudges’ the reduction in salaries but MPLADS fund belong to the people and not to lawmakers. “Its suspension disempowers MPs and the union government should seriously reconsider it," he added.
The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in the Lower House on Monday by union parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi. Once it becomes a law, it will replace the Salary, Allowances And Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 which was brought in April this year.
“I congratulate all members that charity has begun from both the Houses. It is unprecedented as the whole world is affected. When such things happen we need to take extraordinary decisions…We are not saying only we are doing everything, there is no question of politicization of the issue. MPLADS proposal is temporary for only two years," Joshi said while responding at end of the debate.
Parties including Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Left Parties, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham, YSR Congress Party have opposed the move to suspend the MPLADS fund calling it short-sighted and causing troubles on the ground for implementation of work.