The Punjab government Saturday notified a legislation that allows for pension to the legislators for only one term, ending the multiple pensions that they had been getting for multiple terms till now, with Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann saying the state will save Rs 100 crore in five years.
The Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Amendment Bill was notified after Governor Banwarilal Purohit gave his assent Friday.
“I am very happy to inform Punjabis that the Governor has given his assent to One MLA-One Pension Bill. The government has issued a notification,” Mann said.
He said the move will revolutionise and reform the country’s political system, Mann said. “It is a humble initiative by the AAP government to realise the dreams of our freedom fighters and national heroes,” he said, adding the state government is expected to save around Rs 19.53 crore annually through the move.
The Punjab Assembly had passed the Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2022 on June 30. It is aimed at giving pension to the members of the state assembly for a single term only at new rate of Rs 60,000 per month plus dearness allowance. As per the government every legislator would get Rs 75,150 per month. Earlier, some former legislators were getting pensions as high as Rs 3 lakh per month.
With this notification, Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Cheema said now there will be no more “free ke revdi” (freebies) to leaders.
“No more ‘Free ki Revdi’ to Netas! When Punjab was reeling from extreme financial distress, MLA’s under the previous govts were enjoying multiple pensions. Under the leadership of CM @BhagwantMann this comes to an end,” said Cheema in a tweet.
Later, in a statement issued here, Mann said, “Our great freedom fighters had dreamt of a classless democracy where elected representatives will work as the real servants of people and ensure their well-being.
“But in the last 75 years these elected representatives have turned into political executives by drawing extravagant salaries and pensions from the state exchequer,” he said.
Mann said the entire burden of the facility extended to these leaders was met by taxpayers’ money. “Their money was misused to fill the pockets of these leaders instead of being used for public welfare,” he stated.
Mann said MLAs have entered politics willingly to serve people, so they have no moral responsibility to claim multiple pensions in exchange for this service.
AAP MP Raghav Chadha lauded the Mann government’s move. “Previous Punjab Govts with malafide interests drained Govt treasury & filled their own pockets by exploiting ‘One MLA Multiple Pensions’. Losing elections would lead to profits for ex-MLAs! Today Mann Govt introduced ‘One MLA One Pension’ saving crores of rupees of the exchequer,” said Chadha in a tweet.
Earlier, the Governor had refused to give his assent to an ordinance limiting multiple pensions of legislators 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.
The delay in Governor’s assent 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.
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.