The ball on the future of MP Local Area Development scheme is now in the court of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Two government committees have taken a contradictory stand on the scheme. The Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by Congress leader Verrappa Moilly, wants the scheme to be scrapped. A Lok Sabha committee has sought an increase in funds for the scheme from Rs. 2 crore to Rs. 5 crore for a MP.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, that executes the scheme, recently forwarded the Lok Sabha committee report to the Prime Minister’s Office for final decision. "A Lok Sabha committee report seeking increase in MPLAD from Rs. 2 to Rs. 5 crore has been forwarded to PMO for directions," said the ministry’s secretary Pranab Sen.
The Lok Sabha committee was constituted after four MPs were caught on camera discussing commission for the contracts allocated under the scheme. The MPs have discretion of instructing district officials to spend Rs. 2 crore on projects identified by them.
The committee found nothing wrong with the basic concept but wanted some changes in MPLAD guidelines to prohibit undertaking projects of NGOs or private organizations under the scheme and more transparency in execution of the projects.
Audit reports in 1998 and 2001 had stated that the scheme had ‘hardly served its objectives’ and said huge amounts was unspent. In about 70 per cent projects executed the utilisation certificates were not submitted, the audit report of 1998 said.
The Administrative Reforms Commission report submitted to the PM in 2006 reiterated the issue of corruption in MPLADs and conflict of legislative and executive interests for MPs, while recommending scrapping the scheme. Except Left Front, all major political parties want the scheme to continue.
In wake of these observations, the ministry officials want the PMO to decide on the matter. "The future of the scheme is being discussed at the highest level in the government. There are lot of views for and against the scheme," an official said. Till then, there may not be any forward movement on the recommendations of Lok Sabha committee on MPLADs.