New Delhi: With prices rising, lawmakers of the world`s largest democracy are seeking a better pay package.
A Parliamentary committee has recommended that the monthly salary of MPs be hiked from Rs 16,000 to Rs 80,001, a rupee more than a Secretary to the Union Government.
The matter is under the consideration of the Government.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister PK Bansal said the extent of hike in salary and allowances of MPs has not been decided.
"Nothing has been finalised. Everything is under discussion. Very soon, we will take it up with concerned ministries. We hope to take it to the Cabinet so as to introduce a bill in the coming session of Parliament" beginning next month, he said.
Bansal insisted that there was "nothing wrong" in Parliament amending the relevant Act periodically keeping in view the increased cost of living and other expenses.
The last hike in salaries and allowances of 795 MPs -- 545 of Lok Sabha and 250 of Rajya Sabha -- was effected some ten years back. The Sixth Pay Commission for government servants came into effect from January 2006.
The manner in which the hike has been sought to be brought about has raised a controversy. CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury has already said his party would oppose the move of Parliamentarians themselves deciding on their pay hike as it was "wrong".
In the last Lok Sabha too, then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had favoured an institutional mechanism like a Salary Commission to go into the issue and had even written to
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he felt that it was not proper that MPs themselves decide on their pay packet.
Chatterjee told a news agency that he was informed by the government that it was not possible to set up such a mechanism in that Lok Sabha and it could be thought of later.
There are, however, no two views about the `meagre` salary the Parliamentarians here get as compared to their counterparts in some other countries.
An MP said in neighbouring Sri Lanka, an MP even gets a high-class car which he could buy at the end of his term at a depreciated value.
In the US, a senator is allowed to employ upto 18 staff members while in India the secretarial allowances for an MP was a meagre Rs 20,000 in which keeping a computer-literate staff is not possible, another MP said.
The Joint Committee on MPs Salary and Allowances, headed by Charan Das Mahant (Congress), has recommended raising the daily allowance from Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 when Parliament is in session. Office expense allowances are also recommended to be increased substantially as well as the constituency allowance.
Among the proposals is 34 free flights for the members to ensure that they remain in touch with their electorate.
The report of the Committee has not been tabled in either House but presented to Speaker Meira Kumar and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari in May.
Samajwadi Party leader Mohan Singh said there was a clear case for raising the salary of members but it should be done keeping in mind the realities of India.
Bansal said it was "not appropriate" to compare the salary of an MP with the salary of a top government servant.
"MPs` job is not an employment under the government. MPs can take other assignments which is not an office of profit. A doctor MP can also practise as a doctor," he said.
Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said there is a strong case for increasing the level of infrastructure support for MPs to enable them to discharge their duties more effectively
in Parliament as lawmakers and in their constituencies to fulfil the aspirations of the people.