The Maharashtra finance ministry has been approached by Opposition leaders as well as ruling legislators with a common demand — a “decent” hike in their salaries in the year 2016-17. Highly placed sources in the government said the proposal was being considered in a positive light, but would require the consent of the Cabinet on Thursday.
If the Cabinet gives its nod, the Bill to increase MLA/MLC salaries would be adopted on the last day of the Monsoon Session on August 5. A senior Opposition leader said, “The salaries of ministers and members of the House have not been revised since 2010. It is high time the government considered increasing our remuneration.”
At least two senior opposition leaders from Congress-NCP have conveyed to Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to increase the salaries of MLAs and MLCs from the existing Rs 75,000 to Rs 1lakh-Rs1.5 lakh. However, the finance ministry is considering giving a raise between Rs25,000 to Rs30,000, sources said. On an average, the current salary of legislators is Rs 75,000 and of ministers Rs 67,000. In 2010, the salary of legislators was raised from Rs 44,000 to Rs 75,000. For ministers, it was raised from Rs 29,000 to Rs 67,000.
A source in the government said, “While the hike is justified, we have to take public perception into account. However, people often overlook the fact that legislators and ministers too have families to run, on top of which they have to spend on public works and helping their voters.”
A senior Congress MLA said, “Whenever there is a demand to hike the salary of legislators, the question of the state reeling under a debt of Rs 3.5 lakh crore is raised. But no one talks of this when the income of government employees shoots up under a new pay commission.”
Apart from their salaries, elected members and ministers are entitled to allowances including permissible railway travel which was raised from 30,000 km to 50,000 km in 2010. The salary hike would help a total 325 members (including Assembly and Council), 39 ministers, two opposition leaders and four presiding officers. The government is also considering the increase for the ministers’ personal assistant and staff.