Opposition leaders have slammed the suspension of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund for two years after the NDA-majority Lok Sabha cleared an amendment to the law on Tuesday.
Congress leader in the House Adhir Chowdhury appealed immediate restoration of the funds. "I am fervently appealing that the MPLADS funds should be restored as soon as possible," he told reporters after the session.
The Lok Sabha passed The Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 amid the COVID-19 crisis. This bill was tabled by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi on Monday to replace an Ordinance cleared by the Centre earlier in April.
The government says the rationale of this legislation is to raise resources for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. For this purpose, a new sub-section has been inserted in Section 3 of the 1954 Act to reduce the salaries payable to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs by 30%. This will be applicable for a period of one year with effect from April 1, 2020. The government had earlier stated that Rs.7,900 crore saved from the MPLADS will go to the Consolidated Fund of India.
Navneet Ravi Rana an Independent MP from Maharashtra's Amravati asked the government to not slash MPLADS funds. "Please take our (MPs) salaries, but please do not cut MPLADS funds meant for development works," Rana, said.
Moreover, NCP MP Supriya Sule suggested that the Central Vista project must be cancelled and more ventilators must be brought for the common man in this nation. "Why is the government not reducing its expenditure to make sure that the costs come down," she asked.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra said MPLADS is the only thing that MPs are directly accountable to their constituents and demanded reconsideration of the move to amend the law.
"The 2.5 crores that we get for the first six months, it is only after the utilisation certificates of the work done, that the other 2.5 crores are released. There is a no bigger or greater example of accountability and transparency than this and by taking this away, the government is doing the country a great disservice," she said in Lok Sabha.