Legislators in the Maharashtra Assembly on Tuesday compelled the government to hike their annual local area development fund from Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore.
During the vote on the Appropriation Bill, the Opposition demanded that the fund, which is given to legislators to spend in their constituency as per their discretion, be increased to Rs 2 crore. Finance Minister, Sunil Tatkare, showed the willingness to increase it only Rs 25 lakh. Legislators from the Opposition protested, forcing the House to be adjourned twice.
Leader of Opposition, Eknath Khadse, said Rs 25 lakh out of the MLA fund of Rs 1 crore was being deducted as Value Added Tax.
He said the fund was being used for the public and should be increased.
Following a discussion between Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, and group leaders from various political parties having representation in the Assembly, the government decided to hike the fund by Rs 50 lakh.
Tatkare made the announcement adding that the hike will be effective starting this year.
The area development fund of elected representatives has always been in controversy over the way it is spent. Citizens’ groups have been demanding that the fund be scrapped. Elected representatives in Mumbai usually spend the fund on civic work like laying tiles or building toilets every year without any long-term benefits for people.