PAY DAY Committee set up by speaker recommends four-fold increase in basic salary, jump in allowances and pensions
NEWDELHI: An experts panel looking into legislators’ salaries on Tuesday recommended a Delhi MLA’s monthly package be more than doubled to ` 210,000 from ` 88,000, which could make them the highest paid legislators in the country.
If the recommendations submitted to the Delhi speaker are accepted, the basic salary of Delhi MLAs will increase four-fold to ` 50,000 a month, putting them on a par with the pay of MPs. The proposed basic salary is also one of the highest for MLAs in India; Assam legislators get the highest basic salary at ` 60,000 a month.
Their overall package could top that of members of Parliament at ` 145,000 a month and Himachal Pradesh, which currently has the highest paid state legislators at ` 125,000 a month.
The committee has also recommended a doubling of the daily allowance to ` 2,000 and other one-time allowances under different heads. The daily allowance is the additional money an elected representative gets for attending sessions of the legislative body or a meeting of its panels.
If a legislator hires a private space for an office, the MLA would be eligible for an additional ` 25,000 in lieu of office rent.
Assembly secretary Prassana Kumar, a member of the committee, said the report would be sent to the Delhi government by the speaker after the salary and allowances committee of the sssembly takes a view on the recommendations.
“The government will take a reasoned decision after going through each recommendation,” said a government spokesperson.
While the committee members argued “they have recommended a reasonable revision following the best international practices”, leader of opposition Vijendra Gupta and Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken criticised the AAP government for the proposals.
Gupta dubbed the ruling party the “Khas Aadmi Party” while Maken alleged “the state government is misusing public funds for giving extra perks and position to its legislators”.
In August, the salary and allowance committee led by Karol Bagh MLA Vishesh Ravi had urged speaker Ram Niwas Goel to form an independent panel after several AAP legislators demanded a salary revision. The AAP MLAs argued that many of them had entered politics after quitting alternative careers while several others came from humble backgrounds, and it was difficult to meet the expenses with the existing emoluments.
The Delhi assembly came into existence in 1993. The salary and allowance of legislators has been revised four times, with the last revision enacted in 2010-11 when an MLA’s salary was revised from ` 6,000 to ` 12,000.
Main recommendations of experts panel set up by Delhi assembly speaker
Increase basic salary from ` 12,000 to ` 50,000, constituency allowance from ` 18,000 to ` 50,000
Introduce office expenses component of ` 70,000 plus ` 25,000 if office taken on rent
Hike annual travel reimbursements to ` 3 lakh (air, rail, road) from current ` 50,000
One-time allowances (per tenure) of ` 1 lakh for furnishing office, ` 60,000 for office equipment
Hike vehicle loan from ` 4 lakh to ` 12 lakh, monthly pension from ` 7,500 to ` 15,000
NEW DELHI: Arguing for a hike in salaries in July, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs had said that managing expenditures within the salaries and allowances they get was impossible.
Many AAP MLAs gave up regular jobs to join the party.
For a few MLAs, who had left good jobs in MNCs, the jolt was bigger. Adarsh Shastri, MLA from Dwarka, quit his job as the head of the South Asia sales unit at Apple after joining the party. Shastri, who is heading the AAP government’s team that looks into providing free wifi in the city, commanded a package of ` 1.25 crores per annum at the time he quit.
“It is very important to appreciate the challenges that an MLA has to face each day. I welcome anyone to come live my life and see if they can manage in the amount that we currently get. AAP was formed to further honest politics and this needs an honest understanding of the conditions we operate in,” Shastri said.
Calling himself the CEO of his constituency, Shastri said that he never received calls at 2 am in his previous job.
“I help make people’s lives better or worse and it is an onerous responsibility. This is the most high-pressure job I have ever had.”
A number of people doing regular jobs joined the party in 2012 and 2013. Many of them were elected last year and left their jobs. Saurabh Bhardwaj, the party’s spokesperson, was a project manager with a US based fortune 500 company before joining the party. He was earning an annual salary of ` 17 lakh when he quit.
“If the three BJP MLAs prove they are running their household in ` 12,000 (the salary component), I will resign. I welcome anyone to come and stay with me for three days and see what the expenditures are. We end up spending more than the allocated amount on travel, data entry operators and administrative expenses. ` 12,000 is the real salary component and you can’t run a household in this much,” said Bhardwaj, who also called for a debate on whether the salary component should be hiked to ` 50,000 from ` 12,000.