As the general election nears, the government has allowed Members of Parliament (MPs) more flexibility in utilising their local area development fund. They can now install solar lights at public places, build public infrastructure in cooperative societies and buy furniture for schools.
Every parliamentarian gets Rs. 5 crore every year as Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) Fund to carry out developmental works in his or her constituency. But, till recently they were allowed to use their money only in public institutions for creating durable assets.
Earlier this year the ministry of statistics and programme implementation allowed MPs to sanction up to Rs. 50 lakh for works in societies and trusts in which they have no conflict of interest. Now, the provision has been extended to lakhs of cooperative societies across India.
The rule prohibits sanctioning work in cooperative societies where the recommending MP or his family member is an office-bearer. “Mutual funding by MPs will not be allowed,” the rule says.
The new rule says infrastructure created using MPLAD should be for community or public at large and should not be used for commercial purpose. The rule disallowed construction of official and residential buildings of cooperative societies.
The ministry has also allowed the MPs to use their funds to fund buying of solar lights for public purposes like street lights or lighting a community centre.
The ministry has allowed MPs to buy furniture for government run schools in their constituencies and to utilise the fund for building facilitation centres for themselves at the district office.