Members of Parliament want restrictions to be eased on their local area development (MPLAD) scheme to allow more funds to trusts and societies.
They even suggested that their “conflict of interest” ambit should be reduced by redefining their family so that more social organizations can benefit from their public funded benevolence.
The MPs, who get Rs five crore every year for carrying out development works in their constituencies, are unhappy with the ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation for limiting sanction of maximum of Rs one crore from the fund for building assets in societies and trusts in a year. The condition was imposed earlier this year.
“The trusts and societies which are providing true service to the poor and the needy may be allowed to use MPLADS over and above the ceiling fixed by the ministry,” a Parliamentary Standing Committee on MPLADs said in its latest report.
The MPs also want that they should be free to allocate unlimited money to trusts and societies, and the district authority --- the project implementation body under MPLADs --- should be responsible for checking credentials of these organisations.
The committee also noted that it was disheartening to note that the ministry had neither conducted any on-the-field study on the provisions related to societies and trusts while imposing the Rs one crore restriction.
The MPs also took umbrage at the ministry refusing to accept suggestion of an earlier Parliamentary committee to redefine family of an MP. This was with respect to restrictions in MPLAD guidelines on allowing funding from MPLAD to trusts and societies, whose members are either from MPs family or are close relatives.
The committee had suggested that in-laws of an MP or their family members should not be included in the definition of the family. “The existing definition of the family is inclusive and is necessary to save criticism of the scheme,” the ministry said, in a submission to the committee while rejecting the committee’s suggestion.
The parliamentary body also took exception to the ministry’s suggestion to the state governments to consider reputed Non-Government Organisations as implementing agencies.
“On one hand, the ministry is skeptical of credibility of trusts and societies and on the other hand it encourages engagement of NGOs as implementing agencies without prescribing proper qualifications and criteria for selection by the district authorities,” the committee said, while asking the ministry to maintain a level playing field for all stakeholders in implementing the scheme.