Legislators from Telangana became the country’s highest-paid state lawmakers on Tuesday after the assembly approved a bill that hiked their gross monthly salary by 163% to Rs 2.5 lakh.
The basic pay for members of the state assembly and council was increased from Rs 12,000 to Rs 20,000 per month. The constituency allowance – that comprises other perks, benefits and subsidies – was hiked from Rs 83,000 to Rs 2.3 lakh a month.
Legislators in the state that will turn two in June overtook their counterparts in Delhi who draw a gross monthly salary of Rs 2.1 lakh.
The move triggered condemnation with many saying a state with mounting public debt and worsening agrarian crisis couldn’t afford fat salary packages.
But chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao justified the jump, saying it wasn’t an era of sacrifices.
“The economic dynamics immediately after Independence was different and the economic dynamics of today are different. Today there is no need for anybody to make big sacrifices. This is not an era of sacrifices because we are all involved in the process of nation building,” he said.
Rao’s salary was hiked 72%. He will now get a monthly package of 4.21 lakh, up from the existing 2.44 lakh.
His basic monthly pay was hiked from Rs 16,000 to Rs 51,000, and the constituency allowance was increased to Rs 2.30 lakh per month from Rs 83,000 at present.
The monthly salaries of the assembly speaker and chairman of the legislative council have gone up from Rs.2.42 lakh to Rs.4.11 lakh.
Ministers, chief whip and whip will get a monthly package of Rs.4 lakh, up from the existing 2.42 lakh.
Speaking in the assembly, Rao dismissed criticism over the salary hike and asked the media to not demean the legislators by terming this a “loot” of public money.
The chief minister argued that facilities were necessary for lawmakers to play an active and positive role in nation building and remain free from corruption.
The hike will cost the state Rs 42 crore per year, a negligible percentage of the state budget, he added.
Salaries and allowances of MLAs vary from state to state. At present, a lawmaker in Himachal Pradesh is paid Rs 1.25 lakh a month – the highest after Delhi -- while an Odisha MLA has a monthly income of Rs 20,000, the lowest in the country.