Uttarakhand MLAs propose 200% hike in own salaries, and then okay it
Uttarakhand lawmakers and ministers are set to receive hefty increases in their monthly pay package, a hike some said was still low, so they can keep up with the higher cost of living. The increase will also benefit their aides, like drivers and secretaries.
Accepting the recommendations of a committee that studied the pay package of legislators across states, the Uttarakhand assembly passed an amendment bill to hike the lawmakers’ salaries and allowances by a voice vote on Monday.
The salary of ministers has doubled from Rs 45,000 per month to Rs 90,000. The salary of the speaker and deputy speaker has also doubled from Rs 54,000 (per month) to Rs 1.10 lakh. The legislators’ monthly salary tripled from Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000.
Allowances across categories have increased in line with market trends. For instance, the monthly allowance for a legislator’s driver which was Rs3,000, has been hiked fourfold to Rs12,000. Similarly, the constituency allowance has more than doubled from Rs 60,000 to Rs1.5 lakh. The cap on monthly allowance against fuel expenses and railway coupons increased from Rs 2.70 lakh to Rs 3.25 lakh.
The monthly pension of former legislators doubled from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000.
The constituency allowance of ministers, the speaker and deputy speaker will double from R 42,000 to R 84,000. Their drivers will also get fat pay package of R 72,000 monthly. Other than an official secretary, who is paid by the government, their private secretary will get R 12,000 every month.
Lawmakers will be entitled to overseas visits for medical treatment on the recommendation of a doctor from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Besides, they will be entitled to reimbursement of medical expenses across hospitals within and outside the state.
Uttarakhand finance minister Prakash Pant said the legislators’ expenses are manifold and the hike is average. He said that government was already paying salaries in line with 7th Pay Commission recommendations to state employees and ‘increments’ for legislators had been due for long.
“The hike in package is justified on several parameters. For instance, MLAs (members of the legislative assembly) used to get Rs 2000 as daily allowance. It is like peanuts, given the fact hundreds of people visit the home of MLAs and they have to be offered tea and snacks,”a minister told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA SS Jeena said the hike fell short.
“I have a Delhi-based driver whom I pay Rs 25,000 and it goes from the pocket,” Jeena said.
Congress legislator Manoj Rawat said he was satisfied with the increase.
“The increase is good but otherwise I was managing and happy in whatever I was getting,”
Arun Pandey, acting general secretary of the State Employees Joint Council, demanded that the government pay arrears due to employees in line with Pay Commission recommendations.
“A committee to fix the pay of lawmakers works so fast while another committee under chief secretary on employees’ demand had not responded for the last one year,” he said.