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Cabinet approves ordinance to reduce salaries of PM, Ministers, MPs by 30% for a year

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cabinet-passes-ordinance-to-reduce-salaries-of-president-pm-ministers-mps-by-30-for-a-year/article31269645.ece

The Union Cabinet on Monday approved a 30% cut in the salaries of all Members of Parliament and a two-year suspension of the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme so that the amount saved can go to the Consolidated Fund of India to fight COVID-19, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday.

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Addressing a press conference after a Cabinet meeting, Mr. Javadekar said the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved an ordinance to amend the Salaries, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, to cut the salaries of MPs by 30%. He said all MPs, including the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers, would take the salary cut for financial year 2020-2021. In addition, the Cabinet had decided to suspend the MPLAD funds for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. Many MPs had already pledged to use their MPLAD funds, Rs.5 crore a year, for efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

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“All MPs were feeling that charity begins at home. Therefore, we have decided on an ordinance…Many MPs had contributed their MPLAD funds for COVID-19 related measures. So, instead of piecemeal efforts, a comprehensive decision was taken to suspend MPLAD for two years,” he said, adding that the amount saved from scheme would be Rs.7,900 crore.

Mr. Javadekar said President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, as well as all Governors, had decided of their own volition to take a 30% salary cut. All the amount saved would go to the Consolidated Fund of India.

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When asked about how much would be saved from the MPs’ salary cut, he said: “It’s not about the amount, it’s about the message it sends to the country about the will of MPs.”

Later, government spokesperson K.S. Dhatwalia clarified via a tweet that only the MPs’ salaries would be cut, not allowances or the pensions of ex-MPs. According to the Act, as amended in April 2018, MPs are entitled to a monthly salary of Rs.1 lakh, apart from various allowances.

Congress reaction

Reacting to the Cabinet decisions, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a tweet that the Congress supported the salary cut for MPs. However, suspending the MPLAD scheme would undermine the role of MPs, he observed.

“Dear PM, INC supports the salary cut for MP’s! Please note that MPLAD is meant to execute developmental works in the constituency. Suspending it is a huge disservice to the constituents & will undermine the role & functions of MP. (sic),” he tweeted.

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