Hiked in a hurry, Maharashtra ministers, legislators wait for pay
Sources said there was a lack of clarity on the allowances the legislators were entitled to. While the legislative secretariat has released a basic amount to accounts, legislators are unhappymumbai Updated: Oct 13, 2016 01:22 IST
Two months after Maharashtra’s legislators and ministers drafted a bill overnight to substantially raise their own salaries and passed it hurriedly on the last day of the monsoon session, poor attention to the fine points has resulted in them not getting any salary in August and September.
Sources said there was a lack of clarity on the allowances the legislators were entitled to. While the legislative secretariat has released a basic amount to accounts, legislators are unhappy. On August 5, both houses of the state legislature passed the bill that raised the salaries of ministers, presiding officers of both houses and leaders of opposition to the level of the chief secretary of the state (see box). The bill was notified on August 24, after the Governor approved the new salaries.
The trouble started when the process to frame rules that would finalise the amount began. The legislative secretariat and state’s general administrative department (GAD) realised there were issues with the notification — differences over what the basic salary of the ministers would be and whether they would get a hike in dearness allowance every six months. The problem, said sources, was the plan was to increase salaries and allowances to the level of the additional and chief secretaries, but these officials also pay a sizable income tax. The political leadership reportedly wants to frame salary rules to keep it outside the tax bracket. “The bill was drafted at midnight and introduced hurriedly. This led to some errors, such as the exclusion of the sitting allowance and vehicle allowances to ministers and leaders of opposition. The bill has no mention of family pension to be paid the spouse of a deceased legislator. Such factors delayed releasing the salary,” said a GAD official. Temporarily, the legislative secretariat released Rs35000 into the accounts of the legislators, with sources saying the rest will be credited once an amended notification is issued.
Parliamentary affairs minister Girish Bapat said, “There are a few technical factors that need to be fine-tuned and may take more than a month. Though we have brought the ministers and legislators to the rank of IAS officials for payment, politicians can’t be given travel and dearness allowances, as this will hike the salary to an enormous level. Also we cannot implement the seventh pay commission unless state employees are entitled to it.” Legislators should know their arrears will be paid, Bapat said.