It was greed, not need

It was greed, not need

MLAs salaries hiked without considering merits, demerits of the demand

The only reason, according to official sources, for the Special Board of State Legislature, comprising the Chief Minister, the law minister, the Speaker of the Assembly and the chairman of the Council, to give its nod for the pay hike was pressure from the legislators of both the ruling and the Opposition parties.

It is a different issue that the entire Opposition boycotted the just concluded legislature session.

But they have not commented against the legislature passing the salary-related bill, though they criticised the ruling party and the Assembly Speaker for holding the session in the wake of the Supreme Court.

Salaries for the chief minister, cabinet ministers, Speaker, Chairman, opposition leaders, chief whips and legislators will go up substantially with the passing two bills in both Houses of the Legislature. Allowances, which are a major component of their total monthly pay, have increased manifold.

Sources in the State Legislature said the Special Board in its meeting held in February this year took the decision to hike the salaries without looking into the merits and demerits of the legislators’ demand. It did not even consult any expert on the need for such a steep hike in salary and allowances.

For instance, travelling allowance has been hiked from Rs 10 per km to Rs 20 per km. This is despite the fact that legislators can travel free in all kinds of buses of State-owed transport corporations. And private travel agencies on an average charge just Rs nine per km to hire an AC Toyota Innova car, which is considered a high-end car. But the reasons for fixing Rs 20 a km is not known.

However, it is not mandatory to have any study report for hiking salaries of members of State legislators as per the rule book. All State Legislatures in the country have been empowered to hike the salary of the members, officials said.

The ministers’ salary bill only stated that the hike was necessitated due to increase in the cost of living.

Though it is an accepted fact that the cost of living has gone up, the bill doesn’t explain how the government arrived at the proposed salary.

Travelling allowance

Sources said many of the legislators take home nearly Rs 1.5 lakh as monthly pay, and the major portion of it comes from travelling allowance.

Almost all legislators, both MLAs and MLCs, will be a member of one of the 21 Standing Committees. Of these, nine are joint House committees, six Assembly committees and seven Council Committees. Each of these committees will have 15 to 20 members.

A committee meets at least once a month at the Vidhana Soudha. The members will get travelling allowance of Rs 20 per km irrespective of the mode of transportation.

If a member has come from a constituency in Gulbarga district travelling, say, 400 km, she/he can claim Rs 16,000 as travelling allowance.

Besides, the member will be entitled a daily allowance of Rs 1,000. For attending a one-day meeting, a member is entitled to claim five days of daily allowance (two days before and two days after the meeting, besides the day of meeting). Roughly, the member will get Rs 21,000 for attending one day of meeting or any official business in Bangalore.

The committee members keep going on official tours outside the State. Then they get Rs 1,500 per day as daily allowance, besides travelling allowance. It is not mandatory for the members to produce any kind of bill or proof for claiming travelling allowance, officials said.

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