The passage of the Finance Bill in March will be followed by amendments to four Bills to effect a salary increase for President, Vice President, Governors and MPs, as announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Budget on Thursday. In his speech, Jaitley announced that the monthly salary of the President has been increased to Rs 5 lakh, and that of the Vice President and Governors to Rs 4 lakh and 3.5 lakh, respectively, in rectification of an anomaly.
Jaitley also proposed an automatic revision of salaries for MPs every five years indexed to inflation, a move, he said, that should preclude the criticism against MPs for deciding their salaries themselves. At present, the President gets Rs 1.50 lakh per month, the Vice President Rs 1.25 lakh and the Governor of a state Rs 1.10 lakh. Until now, they got salaries less than top bureaucrats and armed forces service chiefs since the laws were not amended to rectify an anomaly with the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission’s recommendations two years ago.
Sources in the government said once the changes are effected an MP will get a monthly salary of Rs 1 lakh (Rs 50000 increase from the current basic salary), Rs 70,000 as constituency allowance and Rs 60,000 for running his or her office. The remuneration of an MP includes Rs 45,000 each as constituency allowance and to run the office, besides other perks.
Each MP gets Rs 2,000 per day for attending session or committee meetings. Under the new system, MPs’ travelling allowance will be fixed. As of now, MPs can avail 25 per cent of their travel fare as travel allowance. The move to fix the daily allowance, doing away with the provision of 25 per cent of travel fare as DA, is expected to draw ire from MPs belonging to far-flung states. Sources in the government claimed that there has been criticism that many MPs belonging to these states take tickets with highest charges to make use of this perk.
But for Left MPs, who give a monthly levy to the party — a CPI(M) MP, for instance, gives Rs 75,000 of his/her salary to the party as monthly levy – the DA and travel allowance had been a major relief. The move to fix travel allowance is likely to upset these MPs, most of them representing Kerala and West Bengal.
In order to make the changes effective, Parliament will have to amend the President’s Emoluments and Pension (Amendment) Act, 2008, the Vice President’s Pension (Amendment) Act, 2008, and the Governor’s (Emoluments, Allowances and Privileges) Act. For changing MPs’ salary structure, both Houses will have to pass amendments to The Salary, Allowances and Pensions of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2010.
Presenting the Budget, Jaitley said there had been a public debate on emoluments paid to MPs, and the present practice allowing them to fix their own emoluments had invited criticism. “I am, therefore, proposing necessary changes to refix the salary, constituency allowance, office expenses and meeting allowance payable to Members of Parliament with effect from April 1, 2018,” he said.
The changes in the Bill will see that it has provisions to provide for automatic revision of emoluments every five years indexed to inflation and members would welcome this initiative and “not suffer such criticism in the future”. The emoluments of the President, the Vice President and Governors were last revised with effect from January 1, 2006.