The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in the Lower House on Monday. It will replace the Salary, Allowances And Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
The ordinance was cleared by the Cabinet on April 6 and promulgated the next day.
Replying to the debate on the bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said that funds are needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and “charity should begin from home”.
He also said that the economy was affected due to the lockdown, and in such a situation, the government has taken important decisions to deal with the crisis.
Responding to the demand by opposition members to restore MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), he said: “Whatever decision we have taken on MPLADS is temporary and only for two years”. It was decided by the government to suspend the MPLADS funds for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.
Under the scheme, members of both Houses can recommend development programmes involving spending of Rs 5 crore every year.
The Congress and other opposition parties in Lok Sabha demanded the restoration of MPLADS funds even as they supported the government’s decision to cut the salaries of members of Parliament.
Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the MPLADS funds should be restored as it is being used by the members for development works in their respective constituencies.
Everybody has called for the restoration of the funds, so “why not we pass a unanimous resolution that the fund should be restored,” he said.
He said that 93 per cent of the funds have been utilised by the members and the bulk of them were used for welfare activities for SCs, STs and villagers.
He said that while the government is giving tax relief to corporates, it is cutting the salaries of the MPs, and termed it as being “penny-wise and pound-foolish”. “I am appealing to the House that this fund should be restored,” he added.
Members who echoed the demand included AAP’s Bhagwant Mann, independent member from Maharashtra Navneet Ravi Rana, Ritesh Pandey (BSP) and AIMIM’s S I Jaleel.
TMC MP Mahua Moitra said the government is doing a disservice through this decision.