MLAs in Punjab will now get just one pension with Governor Banwarilal Purohit giving his assent to the Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2022, limiting multiple pensions to legislators, more than a month after it was passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and the government notifying the Act on Saturday.
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann took to Twitter to announce that the bill had received the governor’s assent. “I am very happy to inform Punjabis that Hon’ble Governor has approved the ‘one MLA, one pension’ bill…Government has issued notification. This will save a lot of tax for the public,” Mann tweeted.
Former legislators in Punjab used to get pensions for supplementary terms too. By limiting the pension to one term, the government is likely to save Rs 19.53 crore for the state exchequer.
From now on, every legislator would get only one pension of Rs 75,150 per month irrespective of the terms for which he/she gets elected. Earlier, some former legislators were getting pensions as high as Rs 3 lakh per month.
State Finance Minister Harpal Cheema said that the state exchequer would save at least Rs 100 crore and added that it was a move in the right direction to save tax-payers’ money.
Chief minister Mann had announced the plan to limit multiple pensions of legislators soon after he took charge but it took more than four months for the Act to be notified.
Earlier, the governor had refused to give his assent to an ordinance to this effect saying that it should be put up as a Bill in the budget session of the Vidhan Sabha. On June 30, the Vidhan Sabha passed the Bill.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s asset came at a time when the government was losing hope as the governor had not given his assent to the contractual employees’ Bill too. Since the Bill limiting pensions was a money bill, the government could not even send a reminder to the Governor. However, the government received the governor’s assent on Friday.
The delay caused a loss of a few crores to the state exchequer as the former MLAs were able to get multiple pensions for the months of May, June and July also.
After taking over reins of the state, chief minister Mann had said that legislators would get only one pension. For enforcing this rule, the government had amended Clause 3(1) of ‘The Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Act, 1977’.
Legislators in Punjab get a basic pension of Rs 15,000 per month. On this, they get 50 per cent DP (a merger of dearness allowance (DA) and basic pension effected on April 1, 2004), and a DA of 234 per cent. Similarly, for every supplementary term, they get Rs 10,000 basic pension, and DP and DA. The DA of 234 per cent, however, was not enhanced after December 31, 2016, following a decision by the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government.
However, when an ex-MLA will attain the age of 65, 75 and 80, he/she shall, respectively, be entitled to an increase of 5 per cent, 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the basic pension, admissible to him/her at the attainment of such age.
While the Bill was tabled, Leader of Opposition Partap Bajwa had said when an MLA is above chief secretary in protocol, an MLA’s pension must be at par with that drawn by the chief secretary. Chief minister Mann had said that a government official becomes eligible for pension after serving for at least 20 years. “A young man who becomes MLA at the age of 27 becomes eligible for pension just after five years. In such a scenario, it is unfair to equate both,” Mann had said.