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MPs want more freedom to disburse funds to trusts

Members of Parliament want restrictions to be eased on their local area development scheme (MPLADS) to allow more funds to trusts and societies. Chetan Chauhan reports.

delhi Updated: May 12, 2013 15:08 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times

Members of Parliament want restrictions to be eased on their local area development scheme (MPLADS) to allow more funds to trusts and societies.

They even suggested that their 'conflict of interest' ambit be reduced by redefining their 'family', so that more social organisations could benefit from their public-funded benevolence.

The MPs, who get Rs 5 crore every year for carrying out development works in their constituencies, are unhappy with the ministry of statistics and programme implementation for limiting sanction from the MP Local Area Development fund to a maximum of Rs 1 crore in a year for building assets in societies and trusts.

The condition was imposed earlier this year.

"The trusts and societies that 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," said a parliamentary standing committee on MPLADS in its latest report.

The MPs also want that they be allowed to freely allocate unlimited money to trusts and societies, and the district authority - the project implementation body under MPLADs - should be responsible for checking the credentials of these organisations.

The committee also noted that it was disheartening that the ministry had not conducted any on-the-field study on the provisions related to societies and trusts while imposing the Rs 1-crore restriction.

The MPs also took offense at the ministry refusing to accept the suggestion of an earlier parliamentary committee to redefine the 'family' of an MP.

This was with respect to restrictions in MPLADS guidelines on allowing funding from the scheme to trusts and societies whose members are related to the MPs.

The committee had suggested that the in-laws of an MP or their family members 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 objected to the ministry's suggestion to the state governments to consider reputed non-government organisations (NGOs) as implementing agencies.

"On the one hand, the ministry is skeptical of the 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.

First Published: May 12, 2013 15:06 IST