The Delhi Assembly on Monday passed bills pertaining to over 66 per cent hike in salaries and allowances of its members, the first raise in last 11 years for the legislators who are considered the lowest-paid lawmakers in the country.
Five different bills were tabled for the hike in salaries of ministers, MLAs, chief whip, Speaker and Deputy Speaker, and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, which were passed by the members. These bills will now be sent for president’s approval.
“Today, @DelhiAssembly passed five bills to increase the salary & allowances of Ministers, MLAs, Chief Whip, Speaker & Dy. Speaker and Leader of Opposition after 11 long years since the last increase. These bills will come into force after approval of President of India,” Law Minister Kailash Gahlot tweeted after tabling the bills in the House.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the finance portfolio, termed the hike a “good” one in the current context and said the salaries should be a little more than required so the MLAs could effectively discharge their duties.
“The MLAs are paid a monthly salary of Rs 12,000 and they are expected to work honestly. To invite talented people into politics, there has to be rewards. The corporates get talented pool of people because of the salaries,” he said in a discussion over the bills.
Commenting over the bills during the discussion, Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said the salaries and allowances of Delhi MLAs were raised five times on an average once every three-and-a-half years, from 1993 to 2011. However, the latest hike has come after 11 years.
BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, Ramvir Singh Bidhuri also supported the pay hike.
Many MLAs, including those of the ruling AAP and the opposition BJP, also demanded interest free vehicle loans and other benefits, including increasing four data entry operators instead of two provided to them for legislative work.
In Delhi, a member of legislative assembly (MLA) gets Rs 54,000 per month as salary and allowances, which will be hiked to Rs 90,000 after the bills get the president’s nod.
According to official figures, an MLA currently draws a monthly salary of Rs 12,000 which will go up to Rs 30,000 after the bills get approved by the president. The constituency allowance will go up to Rs 25,000 from Rs 18,000, while the conveyance allowance will be hiked to Rs 10,000 from Rs 6,000.
The telephone allowance will see a hike of Rs 2,000 from Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000, while the secretarial allowance will from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.
The salaries of the ministers, Speaker and Deputy Speaker, chief whip and leader of opposition are similar. Their monthly salaries will be raised from current Rs 20,000 to Rs 60,000.
The constituency allowance will be raised to Rs 30,000 from existing Rs 18,000, sumptuary allowance will be Rs 10,000 from the current Rs 4,000, secretariat assistance allowance of Rs 25,000, and daily allowance of Rs 1,500 from the existing Rs 1,000.
The overall salary and allowances of the ministers, Speaker and Deputy Speaker, chief whip, and leader of opposition will be increased from the current Rs 72,000 to Rs 1.70 lakh per month.
Besides they will also get reimbursement of annual travel with family up to Rs 1 lakh that was earlier Rs 50,000. Rent free furnished accommodation of Rs 20,000 per month, free use of car with driver or monthly Rs 10,000 as conveyance allowance(earlier Rs 2,000), and free medical treatment.
Some members said the salaries and allowances need to be revised regularly to be at par with their counterparts in other states.
Some of the MLAs cited salaries and allowances of legislators in other states, saying they were the lowest paid lawmakers in the country.
In 2015, the Delhi Assembly had given its nod to form a committee to formulate the hike in salaries proposal. A bill was passed by the Assembly for hike in salaries and allowances, but the Centre sent it back recommending changes.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had in May conveyed its prior approval to the Delhi government to introduce legislative proposals in the Delhi Assembly for the revision of MLAs’ salary and allowances. Subsequently, the government introduced five bills in the assembly in this regard.