VISHAKAPATNAM: The government is all set to constitute a 3-member Emoluments Commission to determine the salary and allowances of MPs after the All India Whips Conference endorsed a proposal of the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry in this regard.
The proposal was widely supported at the Conference which discussed a large of number of issues concerning Parliament and state legislatures.
The move comes in the backdrop of a controversy over a parliamentary panel's recommendations to double the pay and perks of lawmakers.
The Conference also urged the central and the state governments to take lead in establishing inter party forums in Parliament and state legislatures for enabling regular dialogue to tackle contentious issues.
These forums would work informally and enable better performance of the Houses. The move comes in the wake of frequent disruptions marking Parliament's functioning since the NDA took office and a near washout of Monsoon Session over Lalitgate and Vyapam issues due to which the government could not push its legislative agenda and failed to pass key reform measures.
The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs proposed Emoluments Commission to determine the salary and allowances of MPs keeping in view their responsibilities in a fair, transparent and equitable manner, which got "wide support" after extensive deliberations, sources in the ministry said. The confrence also adopted a resolution in this regard and urged the states to ensure uniformity in salaries of legislators across the country with varying allowances depending on the situation in each state.
"The setting up of an independent Emoluments Commission for recommending the salaries and allowances of the Members of Parliament will not only put to rest the public outcry and media criticism over MPs themselves deciding their salaries, it will also provide an appropriate opportunity to take into consideration the huge responsibilities and the important role they play in our representative democracy," sources in the ministry said.
"It would ensure that recommendations on Parliamentary salary are reached in a fair, transparent and equitable way. Once there is consensus on setting up of the Commission, the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act,1954 will be suitably amended," sources added. In June, a parliamentary panel had pitched for 100 percent hike in salary and daily allowances of MPs and 75 percent raise in pension of ex-MPs apart from facilities for their 'companions' in place of 'spouses'.
The panel, headed BJP MP Yogi Adityanath, had also sought doubling of the existing Rs 50,000 salary of MPs and favoured increasing the pension of former parliamentarians from Rs 20,000 to Rs 35,000. This had led to a controversy and the ministry rejected most of the panel's recommendations.
The general principle suggested by the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry for determination of emoluments is that the salary should not be so low as to deter suitable candidates or should not be so high as to make pay the primary attraction for the job "but reflect level of responsibility". It says those with outside interests should not be deterred from entering Parliament, and those who choose to make Parliament a full-time career should be adequately rewarded to reflect their responsibilities. As per Article 106 of the Constitution, salaries of MPs are determined by the Act of 1954, amended from time to time.
The last revision in their salary was made in 2010 under which MPs presently get a basic salary of Rs.50,000 per month. Salaries of Members of State Legislatures are decided as per Article 195 of the Constitution. As per a comparative analysis of Members of Parliament in 37 developing and developed countries, basic salary of MPs are in the range of a meagre Rs 7,952 in Tunisia to a high of Rs 6,16,675 per month in Israel. MPs of only in six countries -- Tunisia, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Haiti and Panama are drawing salaries less than that of Indian MPs.
According to a survey conducted by Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) of 138 chambers from 104 Parliaments, 69 chambers indicated that it is Parliament which determines the salaries of members. 31 of these stated that MPs’ salaries are determined in reference to the Civil Service salary scale. In case of Bhutan, Namibia and the UK's House of Commons, salaries are determined by independent bodies. An MP in India gets a salary of Rs 50,000 per month. In addition, Rs 2,000 per day is paid as daily allowance when the MP signs the register while attending Parliament sessions or House committee meetings. The MP is entitled to Rs 45,000 constituency allowance every month -- Rs 15,000 for stationery and Rs 30,000 to employ secretarial assistance staff.
MPs are also entitled for a government accommodation, air travel and train travel facilities, besides three landline and two mobile phones. They also get a loan of Rs 4 lakh to buy a vehicle. Participating in the conference, the Chief Whips and Whips of various parties from legislatures across the country also sought revision of guidelines for implementation of MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) and analogous schemes in the states to make them more flexible for effectively catering to the needs of local people by addressing infrastructure gaps.
The Conference noted there is too much of bureaucratic control at present in the implementation of these schemes. The delegates discussed the utility and shortcomings of the MPLADS in the light of its implementation over the last 32 years and made suggestions and recommendations, sources said.