The Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Government of NCT of Delhi (Salaries, Allowances, Pension) Amendment Bill 2015 will now be sent to the Centre for approval. The BJP attacked the Aam Aadmi Party government for bringing the bill and demanded its immediate withdrawal, contending it will send a wrong message to the people. Two BJP MLAs staged a walkout protesting the move.
The overall hike proposed for MLAs is two-and-a-half fold, while for Ministers it would be a three-time increase. “The bill proposes to increase the salaries, allowances and other facilities of the Members of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi so as to facilitate them to work effectively in their fields," Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, presenting the bill in the assembly.
The draft bill was based on the report of a three-member committee chaired by former Secretary General of Lok Sabha PDT Achary. "We have accepted all the recommendations of the panel," Sisodia said.
In July, a group of AAP legislators had demanded a significant hike in salary, arguing their earnings were not enough to run their family and offices. Apart from basic salary, the bill proposes hiking constituency allowance from current Rs 18,000 to Rs 50,000 on the ground that it was "grossly" inadequate. The Ministers will get a monthly amount of Rs 10,000 as communication allowance to pay for their mobile bills and Rs 30,000 for phone bills at their residences and offices.
The legislation also provides for a reimbursable sum of Rs 70,000 per month recommended as allowance under 'Secretarial, Research and Office Assistance' head which is Rs 30,000 at present. An 'office rental and related utilities' allowance of Rs 25,000 has been proposed for meeting expenditure on office space and other essential amenities provided by government agencies.
As per the bill, the legislators will be entitled to a communication allowance of Rs 10,000 per month as well as Rs 30,000 as monthly conveyance allowance for each MLA. The 'daily' allowance of each MLA during every sitting of the House or its committees has been proposed to be hiked from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000.
The salaries of Leader of Opposition, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Chief Whip will be on par with the Ministers.
The one-time allowances of MLAs have also been recommended to be increased significantly with one time 'office furnishing' allowance of Rs 1 lakh, Rs 60,000 for purchasing office equipment and a vehicle loan of Rs 12 lakh, which is Rs 4 lakh at present. Lawmakers' salaries were last increased by 100 per cent in September 2011 by the then Sheila Dikshit government, citing inflation and the rise in cost of living.
The bill also provides for a raise in monthly pension from the existing Rs 7,500 to Rs 15,000 per month for first term of membership and an additional pension of Rs 1,000 per month for every successive year of membership beyond the first term, Achary said. The family pension has been recommended at 50 per cent of the pension being paid to a deceased member or an ex-member, he said.
The bill also features a maximum reimbursable travel allowance of Rs 3 lakh per annum for MLAs and their dependents by air, rail, road or steamer. The Ministers will get Rs 30,000 per month towards salary of staff in their constituency offices. In an important recommendation, the bill also provides for a 10 per cent hike in the basic salary, Rs 5,000 per month, after every 12 months, from the date on which new salary and allowances come into force.
The three-member committee of experts had finalised its 21-page "unanimous report" in October. The committee, including non-official members KV Prasad and Balraj Malik, went through pay and allowances structures of many state assemblies as well as those of the US Congress, UK, Australia and many other Commonwealth nations.
The Delhi Cabinet had on November 28 approved the hike in salaries and allowances of the MLAs.