System is hard on honest members

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The Economic Times, August 20, 2010

A joint parliamentary committee has recommended recently that an MP’s salary be fixed at Re 1 more than that of a secretary to the government of India. The logic behind this is to fix a criterion befitting their importance in office, to the salary being paid to other dignitaries placed in the ?Warrant of Precedence? issued by the government of India.

Today, the existing practice is that the salaries and allowances of MPs are fixed on the basis of Consumer Price Index meant for Urban Non-Manual Employees, but are deprived of DA as prescribed by the government from time-to-time. Rather a periodic limit of five years has been fixed in the Salaries, Allowances and Pension of MP’s Act 1954 for effecting any revision of salary and allowances.

Full-time involvement in the service of the nation necessitates a reasonably justified remuneration and professional support for MPs commensurate with the constitutional position and onerous responsibilities bestowed on them. A reasonable level of remuneration has a bearing on the quality of the service rendered by the members in a more effective and efficient manner.

With the present salary of Rs 16,000 a month plus a few perks such as the daily allowance of Rs1000 when Parliament is in session or a House Committee sits, secretarial and constituency allowances etc, the system is hard on those MP’s who make an honest living. There is no doubt that MPs deserve a better deal. The very large population of the constituency, the high expectations of the people from their representatives, the complexities of problems which they have to face, the changing public perception of the role of a MP, all are the factors that have made the task of a member extremely onerous and demanding.

Since the effectiveness of the parliamentary system depends on the availability of members from all walks of life with all kinds of specialised knowledge, the prospect of lower remuneration must not deter better-paid professionals from standing as people’s representatives either.

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