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Scrap The Scheme

Scrap The Scheme

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Times of India
Date: November 2, 2009
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/Scrap-The-Scheme/articleshow/5186476.cms

Introduction: Parliament panel proposes hike in MPLADS funds

Trust our MPs to come together when the issue at stake is funds to dispense patronage. In a rare case of solidarity, MPs of various parties have unanimously proposed that the allocation for the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) be hiked from Rs 2 crore a year to Rs 10 crore. The government must not only reject the proposal by the Lok Sabha Standing Committee on MPLADS but also rethink the scheme. Since its institution in 1993, MPLADS has been under a cloud; the constitutional validity of the scheme is also under challenge in the Supreme Court.

MPLADS distorts the role of the legislator and upsets the delicate balance of power between the legislature and the executive. The aim of the scheme is not without merit. Every MP is entitled to Rs 2 crore every year to build durable public assets in his constituency - a Rajya Sabha MP could use it anywhere in his state. Guidelines have been drawn up to prevent misuse of the funds though studies have revealed massive corruption in the implementation of the scheme. Many states have now replicated the scheme for MLAs, who are likely to demand a hike in their share if MPs have their way.

But corruption is just one of the problems with MPLADS. The scheme is flawed in its conception as it subverts the roles of the legislature and the executive as defined in the Constitution. In a parliamentary democracy, Parliament sanctions funds for projects approved by the House. The executive has to implement the project and the legislature is expected to supervise the executive. The MPLADS provides public funds to be used at the discretion of an individual and, predictably, the money is often used as an instrument of patronage. The quality of public works carried out under the scheme also suffers since the demarcation between the roles of the legislator and the executive is compromised.

The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution set up by the NDA government as well as the Second Administrative Reforms Commission called for a repeal of the MPLADS for these reasons. The scheme also militates against the move to decentralise government wherever possible. The MPLADS is almost a parallel planning system in which central funds bypass the state government and panchayati raj institutions and allow an individual legislator to spend them according to his discretion. The scheme subverts the federal character of our polity. The government must scrap the scheme.

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