NEW DELHI: The Opposition MPs in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday strongly protested the suspension of the MP local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds for two years and sought scrapping of the Rs 20,000 crore Central Vista project instead, saying the government should avoid unnecessary expenses when the country is facing an economic crisis.
The lawmakers argued that the MPLADS corpus was all the more necessary in times of the Covid-19 pandemic to boost the medical infrastructure in their constituencies. Participating in a discussion on The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020, MPs cutting across party lines supported the move to cut 30 per cent of their salaries to meet the financial expenses for the Covid-19 mitigation measures and, at the same time, forcefully pitched for restoration of MPLADS.
Under the MPLADS, each MP gets Rs 5 crore every year to carry out development works in their constituencies.
“None of us have any problems with the salary cuts, but the MPLADS fund is for the people of out constituencies. By suspending the same, the government in two years will get Rs 8,000 crore.
“It should rather scrap the Rs 20,000 crore Central Vista project,” NCP’s Supriya Sule said, adding that the amount should rather be spent on buying ventilators and beefing up the medical infrastructure in the country to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government had come out with an ordinance during lockdown to cut the salaries of MPs by 30 per cent and suspend the MPLADS for two years in the wake of the drain on the exchequer put by the Covid-19.
Even the NDA friendly parties that are known to strike the middle ground in Parliament, such as the Biju Janata Dal and the YSR Congress, protested the suspension of MPLADS, arguing that the fund was more relevant in times of Covid-19 to meet the local demands of the people, which may not be addressed by the Centre and the state governments urgently.