Based on the information procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act that the Haryana government was spending crores of rupees on salaries, allowances and other benefits of legislators, an activist from Panipat has demanded that the political parties should be brought under the ambit of transparency law for using tax payers' money.
According to information given to PP Kapoor, a draftsman, about Rs. 8 crore is spent every year alone on pensions of former legislators and their widows.
“When the elected representatives are enjoying hefty monetary compensation from the tax payers' money then how they as the political parties can justify their exclusion from the RTI jurisdiction,” Kapoor said.
Balance sheets of all national and regional parties should be subjected to the public scrutiny as a justification to accept money by their members from the state exchequer,” Kapoor added.
Kapoor said it was unfortunate that a battery of politicians took politics as a means of social work but enjoy luxury at the cost of public money.
It was shocking that all parties were pushing various reasons for staying away from RTI, he said.
As per the information given by the state government, a member of legislative assembly (MLA) gets Rs. 20,000 (salary), Rs. 1,500 (daily allowance), and Rs. 5,000 each as sumptuary and compensatory allowances.
Similarly, chief parliamentary secretaries draw Rs. 40,000 (salary) and Rs. 12,000 (sumptuary allowance).
MLAs are entitled to Rs. 10,000 (telephone allowance) and Rs. 15 per km (travelling allowance) and given various benefits including an advance of Rs. 40 lakh for construction or purchase of a house and Rs. 10 lakh for purchase of a four wheeler.
Fully furnished accommodation at MLA hostel costs them Rs. 25 per day (including water and electricity charges) and Rs. 200 per month at MLA flats.
MLAs are getting Rs. 3 lakh as petty grant to be utilised within their constituencies.
On the income tax liability the rule says, the members' salaries and allowances shall be exclusive of the tax payable thereof under any law relating to income tax for the time being in force, and such tax shall be borne by the state government.
Similarly, ex-MLAs are paid Rs. 7,500 plus Rs. 3,750 per month with an additional pension of Rs. 1,000.
“Time has come that politicians should either declare they are in politics as a social worker and stop accepting any money from the state funds or they should accept politics as a noble profession and throw themselves as individuals and the financial balance sheets of their parties to the open scrutiny,” Kapoor said.
“There is a huge financial status difference between leaders and those to whom they represent. Most of the MLAs have affluent backgrounds and they should set examples by publicly announcing that they are not accepting any benefit in kind or cash from the state funds for the “social service” they were rendering,” he said.