In a first ever such incident,the Himachal Pradesh government Tuesday withdrew from Assembly three separate Bills seeking biggest ever enhancement of salaries and allowances of ministers and MLAs.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh announced the withdrawal of the bills,brought after a consensus between the Treasury and Opposition benches,after the Opposition BJP,led by former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal staged a sudden walkout minutes before the voting was to begin on the Bills,which sought to almost double the perks and salaries of the MLAs ,Ministers and others.
Interestingly the bills were drafted and moved in the House after off-the-House consensus between the MLAs and ministers,beside Speaker to almost double the perks and salaries of ministers,chief parliamentary secretaries,the Speaker,MLAs and others.
Declining to proceed with the bills in absence of the Opposition,Singh sought Speaker B L Butails permission to withdraw the proposed legislations. The Chief Minister pointed out that since the legislations were brought in the Assembly only after proper consultations and consensus,it will not be appropriate to pass them when the Opposition was not present.
Tomorrow,the Opposition members will go around and tell that they were not a party to the hike. In the given situation,it remains a one-sided thing. So,I propose to withdraw the bills instead of moving them for being passed by the House, he said.
Following this,the Chair permitted withdrawal of the bills. The bills proposed to hike the total benefits,including the salary and perks,of the MLAs to Rs 1.15 lakh per month against the present Rs 70,000. It included an increase in the salary from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000,increasing the telephone allowance from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000,hike in constituency allowance from Rs 35,000 to Rs 60,000 and doubling the office allowance from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per month.
The minimum pension of former MLAs was also proposed to be increased from Rs 18,000 to Rs 22,000 per month. This was expected to put an annual burden of Rs 4.55 crore on the exchequer
The withdrawn bills proposed a hike in the monthly salary of Chief Minister from Rs 39,000 to Rs 65,000 and of cabinet ministers from Rs 36,000 to Rs 50,000. For minister of state,the salary was be hiked from from Rs 33,000 to Rs 48,000 while deputy ministers were to get Rs 45,000 per month instead of current Rs 32,000. Besides the bill had also proposed to increase telephone allowance of ministers from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 and also permit a sumptuary allowance of Rs 30,000 per minister per month. The total burden was around Rs 72.72 lakh per annum.
The bill related to salary of Speaker and deputy speaker had proposed to increase the amount from Rs 36,000 to Rs 50,000 for Speaker and from Rs 33,000 to Rs 45,000 for deputy speaker. The telephone allowance was proposed to be doubled from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 besides permitting a sumptuary allowance of Rs 30,000 per month to them.
Another bill had proposed to increase the salary of chief parliamentary secretaries from Rs 23,000 to Rs 40,000 and that of parliamentary secretary from Rs 22,000 to Rs 35,000 per month.