- The Union cabinet recently decided to suspend the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund for two years and effect a 30% pay cut for all members of Parliament (MPs), including the prime minister and central ministers.
- The President, vice-president, and the governors have also voluntarily decided to forgo 30% of their salary for a year.
- The cabinet’s decision comes in the wake of central government employees having already contributed a day’s income to augment the resources for the fight against the virus that has infected more than 4,000 people in India and killed more than 100.
- The Union finance ministry had in late March announced a ₹1.7 trillion economic relief package to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and its cascading impact on everyone.
Salaries of MPs:
- According to data collated by PRS Legislative Research, MPs get a monthly salary of ₹1,00,000.
- Other allowances: They are also entitled to a constituency allowance of ₹70,000 per month and office allowance of ₹60,000 per month.
How will it help?
- Channelize corpus to the consolidated fund of India: The non-operation of the MPLAD fund for two years will allow the government to channelize the earmarked corpus of ₹7,900 crore to the consolidated fund of India.
- Will adversely impact grass-root level work: MPLAD is meant to execute development work in the constituency, suspending it is a huge disservice to the constituents and will undermine the role and functions of MP.
- Impact efforts at state and local level: As there is enough evidence that covid-19 is best fought at the state and local level, the step will take away expenditure to meet unique requirements of an area.
- Against federalism: As the decision is taken unilaterally by the central government without considering the development needs of the States facing covid-19 outbreak.
Despite above concerns, the decision will showcase a right signal and gesture of accountability as the government is readying to announce a second round of financial stimulus to deal with the covid-19 pandemic.
Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme
- The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is an ongoing Central Sector Scheme which was launched in 1993-94.
- The Scheme enables the Members of Parliament to recommend works for creation of durable community assets based on locally felt needs to be taken up in their constituencies in the area of national priorities namely drinking water, education, public health, sanitation, roads etc.
- The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has been responsible for the policy formulation, release of funds and prescribing monitoring mechanism for implementation of the Scheme.
- The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by the Government of India. The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.
- MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 percent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
- In order to encourage trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people, a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakh is stipulated for building assets by trusts and societies subject to conditions prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
- Lok Sabha Members can recommend works within their Constituencies and Elected Members of Rajya Sabha can recommend works within the State of Election (with select exceptions). Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
- All works to meet locally felt infrastructure and development needs, with an emphasis on creation of durable assets in the constituency are permissible under MPLADS as prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
- Expenditure on specified items of non durable nature are also permitted as listed in the guidelines.
- A Member of Parliament shall give his/ her choice of Nodal District in a prescribed format to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with copy to the State Government and to the District Magistrate of the chosen District.
- The annual entitlement of Rs 5 crore shall be released, in two equal instalments of Rs 2.5 crore each, by Government of India directly to the District Authority of the Nodal District of the Member of Parliament concerned.
- Each MP shall recommend eligible work on the MP’s letter head duly signed by the MP to the district authority.
- The District Authority shall identify the Implementing Agency capable of executing the eligible work qualitatively, timely and satisfactorily. It shall be responsible for timely and effective implementation of such works.
- All recommended eligible works should be sanctioned within 75 days from the date of receipt of the recommendation, after completing all formalities.
- The District Authority shall, however, inform MPs regarding rejection, if any, within 45 days from the date of receipt of recommendations, with reasons thereof.
- MPLAD Scheme can be converged in individual/stand-alone projects of other Central and State Government schemes provided such works of Central/State Governments Schemes are eligible under MPLADS.
- Funds from local bodies can similarly also be pooled with MPLADS works. Wherever such pooling is done, funds from other scheme sources should be used first and the MPLADS funds should be released later, so that MPLADS fund results in completion of the project.
- One MP - One Idea: Based on the innovative ideas received from the local people regarding developmental projects, a ‘One MP – One Idea’ Competition may be held in each Lok Sabha constituency annually to select the three best innovations for cash awards and certificate of appreciation for the next five best innovations.
Image Source: Indian Express