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Centre proposes independent Commission to recommend MPs’ salaries

The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has proposed a three-member independent Emoluments Commission to recommend salaries and other allowances for the Members of Parliament.

This proposal is contained in the Agenda Notes prepared by the Ministry for the two day All India Whips’ Conference to be held at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh during 29-30th September. The Conference will be chaired by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs M.Venkaiah Naidu.

Chief Whips and Whips of various parties in Parliament and state legislatures will also discuss establishing inter-Party forums in Legislatures for better coordination to enable effective functioning of legislative bodies. Delegates will also discuss the utility and shortcomings of the MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) in the light of its implementation over the last 32 years and make suggestions and recommendations.

The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, in the Agenda Notes for the Whips Conference stated that “The setting up of an independent Emoluments Commission for recommending the salaries and allowances of the Members of Parliament will not only put to rest the public outcry and media criticism over MPs themselves deciding their salaries, it will also provide an appropriate opportunity to take into consideration the huge responsibilities and the important role they play in our representative democracy. It would ensure that recommendations on Parliamentary salary are reached in a fair, transparent and equitable way. Once there is consensus on setting up of the Commission, the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act,1954 will suitably amended”.

The general principles suggested by the Ministry for determination of salary should be: (i) Salary should not be so low as to defer suitable candidates or so high as to make pay the primary attraction for the job; (ii) Salary should reflect level of responsibility; and (iii) Those with outside interests should not be deterred from entering Parliament, those who chose to make Parliament a full-time career should be adequately rewarded to reflect their responsibilities.

Presently, as per Article 106 of the Constitution of India, salaries of MPs are determined by the Act of 1954, amended from time to time. The last revision in salary of MPs was made in 2010 and MPs presently get a basic salary of Rs.50,000 per month. Salaries of Members of State Legislatures are decided as per Article 195 of the Constitution.

As per a comparative analysis of Members of Parliament in 37 developing and developed countries, basic salary of MPs is in the range of Rs.7,952 in Tunisia to a high of Rs.6,16,675 per month in Israel. MPs of only in six countries i.e Tunisia, Venezuela   , Sri Lanka, Nepal, Haiti and Panama are drawing salary less than that of Indian MPs.

As per a survey conducted by Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) of 138 chambers from 104 Parliaments, 69 chambers indicated that it is the Parliament which determines the salaries of Members, in reference to another salary scale. 31 of these stated that MPs’ salaries are determined in reference to the Civil Service salary scale. In case of Bhutan, Namibia and the UK House of Commons, salaries are determined by independent bodies.

While referring to the growing challenges of House management further to increase in the number of parties in the legislatures, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, in the Agenda Notes has stressed the need for enhancing floor coordination for better functioning of legislatures in the country. In this regard, the Ministry has proposed an inter-Party forum in Parliament and every state legislature to freely discuss various issues to be included in the list of Business of the House ahead of every session.

Presently, there are 6 National Parties, 53 State Parties besides 1,737 Registered/Unrecognised Parties in the country, of which, as many as 37 political parties and groups are represented in the 16th Lok Sabha.

The Conference will also deliberate the implementation of MPLADS scheme, introduced in 1993-94, under which funds being provided for each MP has increased from Rs.5.00 lakhs to Rs.5.00 cr in 2011-12. All India Whips Conference was conceived as early as in 1952, to provide a suitable forum for periodical meetings and mutual exchange of views on matters of common concern and to evolve standards to strengthen Parliamentary Democracy.

Whips of both the ruling and opposition parties play an important role in informing MPs about the business of the day, ensuring their attendance and formulating a collective opinion of the Party on major issues. They also interact with the presiding offices and Secretariat of the House on behalf of their parties to ensure coordination.

Since the first All India Whips Conference held in Indore in 1952, periodicity of the Conferences varied mostly from 2 to 11 years. Minister of Parliamentary Affairs M.Venkaiah Naidu has desired to hold Whips Conferences regularly and the 16th such Conference was held last year. (INN)