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From diplomatic passports to special guest houses, Ministry rejects most of panel’s demands

Author: Liz Mathew
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: December 9, 2015
URL:   http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/from-diplomatic-passports-to-special-guest-houses-ministry-rejects-most-of-panels-demands/

The ministry has found almost three-fourth of the 65 demands raised by the Joint Committee on Members' Salary and Allowance, as “unreasonable”, sources said

The parliamentary affairs ministry has rejected the demands made by a panel headed by BJP MP Yogi Adityanath for relaxing norms in amenities for MPs and former members. Apart from enhancement of perks, the panel wanted the word ‘companion’ to be used in place of spouse for travel purposes, provide housing loans for MPs, special guest houses in all constituencies, housing societies, provide local phones for them while traveling abroad, issue diplomatic passports and VIP lounge facilities for ex-MPs.

The ministry has found almost three-fourth of the 65 demands raised by the Joint Committee on Members’ Salary and Allowance, as “unreasonable”, sources said.

However, the ministry has agreed to enhance the salary of personal assistants of the MPs, the constituency allowances, pension of the MPs who has served more than five years and the car loan keeping in view of the inflation, sources added. The committee has suggested that the Rs. 400,000 car loan given to the MPs should be increased. “It could be increased to an amount that is recoverable from the MPs in five years,” said the source. It also agreed with the suggestion that the pension for MPs should be enhanced – currently the pension is Rs. 20,000 plus the number of years beyond five years multiplied by 1500.

Interestingly, most of the proposals made by the MSA panel were for the former MPs.

The committee wanted the government to replace the word spouse with ‘companion’ in the travel guidelines. Currently, MPs are allowed to travel in business class in flights as well as first class in trains with spouse and the companions will have to travel in lower class. If the member is single, he or she is allowed to travel with a companion in the same class. The ministry has rejected the panel’s suggestion to replace the word spouse with companion. The ministry also wants to re-examine the “incidental allowance” – one fourth amount of the total air fare – for the MPs when they come to attend committee meetings.

The ministry has suggested that the members should not expect the government to provide housing loans as there are too many options in the market for it. It also refused to accept a recommendation for increasing daily allowance for MPs from Rs 2000 to Rs. 5000 and a demand to set up canteen facilities -in the lines of what the armed forces personnel has.

There was a demand for security for heads of the Parliamentary panels, increasing the number of trips during intersession from 34 to 48 and to raise the office expense allowance also. The ministry has not agreed with the panel on them.

The ministry said it cannot ensure diplomatic passports for ex-MPs and allow former members to get access to guest houses and VIP lounges of the airport. The demand for 10 air tickets a year for former MPs and exemption from toll payment in toll plazas also could not get clearance from the ministry.

“The ministry also feels that the government cannot set up housing societies for the parliamentarians, guest houses for MPs in each constituencies, cannot extend CGHS facilities beyond close family members and car facilities for the Mps during intercession,” said the source.

On the demand for increase in the road allowance – Rs 16 per km, the ministry has decided to maintain status quo. The proposal to expand the Constitution Club has been left to the Urban Development ministry, enhancement of quota for Kendriya Vidyalaya admission to the ministry of HRD and allowing PA in the VIP lounge to civil aviation ministry.

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