Notwithstanding the blame game between the ruling Akali-BJP and the opposition Congress on “who emptied the state coffers”, the Punjab council of ministers on Thursday fully endorsed the Vidhan Sabha recommendations for a colossal hike in the legislators’ salaries and allowances.
The chief minister has got 100% raise from a monthly Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh as salary component alone, as per the decision of the cabinet that met here on Thursday. The total salary and allowances of a Punjab MLA, on an average, has now gone up from Rs 59,000 to Rs 93,000 a month, as per the November 2013 recommendations of the Vidhan Sabha’s general purpose committee, that the cabinet has accepted.
The salary component of the assembly speaker, deputy speaker, deputy chief minister, leader of opposition and deputy leader of opposition has been increased from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000, while that of the chief parliamentary secretaries is up from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000. The salary/pension of former MLAs has been revised from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000. The legislators’ pay includes a substantial increase in their allowances, from Rs 44,000 to Rs 68,000, divided into different components.
The constituency allowance has been increased from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000, office allowance from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000, telephone allowance from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000, and secretariat allowance from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000. A substantial hike in the annual air travel allowance has also been endorsed.
The dearness allowance is up from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500, the annual free-travel facility from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh; and the ex-gratia amount from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. “The last increase in the pay package was in 2010. The cabinet considered the recommendations considering the corresponding salary and perks in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh,” a spokesman said here.
The average increased in the salary and allowances of an MLA has hiked the liability on the state exchequer from Rs 69 lakh to Rs 1.08 crore every month, excluding the special allowances to the speaker, chief minister, other ministers, and chief parliamentary secretaries.