The government has issued two
ordinances, Parliament has modified its rules to reduce the salary and
allowances of Members of Parliament and Ministers, and the Union Cabinet
has decided to cancel the Members of Parliament Local Area Development
Scheme (MPLADS) for two years.
These measures are
purportedly to save costs as the nation tackles the COVID-19 pandemic.
of the Pay-cuts
The 30% cut in the ₹1 lakh
per month salary and the ₹27,000 cut in office and constituency allowances
amount to savings of less than ₹5 crore per month.
The cut in sumptuary
allowances for Ministers results in a total savings of ₹25,000 per month;
yes, you read that right. These amounts are immaterial for the Central
government with an average monthly budget of ₹2.5-lakh crore.
During the crisis, Members of
Parliament should be deliberating on the actions and policies to be taken
to manage the epidemic, and the costs and consequences of various
They should also be trying to
figure out ways to have committee meetings and even the meetings of the
full House through alternate mechanisms such as video-conferencing.
cancellation of MPLADS
The cancellation of MPLADS
for two years, on the other hand, is a welcome move. This scheme should
not be resumed after the crisis. In financial terms, there are savings of
nearly ₹4,000 crore per year.
While this is not
insignificant, the larger benefit is that this will help Members of
Parliament focus on their roles as national legislators.
MPLADS creates several issues
of accountability and jurisdiction. It impinges on separation of powers,
both horizontally across different organs of state, and vertically across
different levels of governance.