Rajya Sabha okays salary cut for MPs amid demand for MPLAD funds’ restoration

New Delhi, Sep 18, 2020-

The Opposition and the Treasury benches unanimously supported the salary cut for MPs, even as the opposition MPs demanded restoration of the MPLAD funds.

The House extended its proceedings for 17 minutes for passing the Bill on Friday.

Intervening in the debate Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “70 per cent members rely on the salary, but I am happy that members have accepted the salary cut.”

He, however, demanded that the MPLAD fund should be restored to execute small development projects.

Replying to the debate, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said, “The MPs should be the role model and its not about the amount.”

There was a heated debate when Pralhad Joshi raised the issue of funds given to the private foundations without naming the Rajiv Gandhi foundation, leading to an uproar by the Congress.

All the parties, except the ruling party, demanded restoration of the MPLAD fund and stopping of the Central Vista project in Delhi.

The minister said the scrapping of the funds is a temporary measure.

The Lok Sabha had on Tuesday passed a Bill which has provisions to suspend the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds for two years and for a 30 per cent deduction in the salaries of all lawmakers. The money, thus saved, can go to the Consolidated Fund of India to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed on the second day of the Monsoon Session despite objections by opposition MPs.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi moved the Bill to replace an ordinance issued by the government after the Union Cabinet in April approved a 30 per cent cut in the salaries of all MPs and the suspension of the MPLAD scheme during 2020-21 and 2021-22.

The consolidated amount of MPLAD funds — around Rs 7,900 crores — will go to the Consolidated Fund of India. The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had approved the ordinance to amend the Salaries, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, to cut the salaries of MPs by 30 per cent.

The MPs, including the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers, would take the salary cut for the financial year 2020-2021.

In addition, the Cabinet had decided to suspend the MPLAD funds for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. Many MPs had already pledged to use their MPLAD funds, Rs five crore a year, to combat the coronavirus pandemic. (Agency)

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