Salary Cut And Suspension Of MPLADS
- As a part of Government’s continued efforts to contain spread of COVID 19, the Union Cabinet on 6th April, 2020, decided to cut in the salaries of all Members of Parliament and not to operate Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for two years (2020-21 and 2021-22).
- These funds will be used to strengthen Government’s efforts in managing the challenges and adverse impact of COVID19 in the country
- The Cabinet approved an ordinance to amend the Salaries, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954.
- It will cut the salaries of Members of Parliament (MPs) by 30%, effective from 1st April 2020.
- The consolidated amount of MPLAD Funds for 2 years – Rs 7,900 crores – will go to Consolidated Fund of India.
- The amendment will only cut MPs’ salaries, not allowances or the pensions of ex-MPs.
About MPLAD Scheme
- Launched during the Narasimha Rao Government in 1993, the objective is to enable the Members of Parliament (MP) to suggest and get executed developmental works of capital nature based on locally felt needs with emphasis on creation of durable assets.
- The Ministry of Rural Development initially administered the scheme. Since October 1994, it has been transferred to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
- The MPs were entitled to recommend works to the tune of Rs. 1 crore annually between 1994-95 and 1997-98, after which the annual entitlement was enhanced to Rs. 2 crore.
- The UPA government in 2011-12 raised the annual entitlement to Rs 5 crore per MP.
- In the case of Lok Sabha, the scheme is implemented in the districts falling within the constituency of the concerned
- In the case of Rajya Sabha, the MP can suggest works in one or more districts within the State from which he is elected.
- As far as the nominated MPs are concerned, they can suggest works anywhere in India.
- It recommend MPs to suggest works costing at least 15 percent of their MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by ST population.
- In case there is insufficient tribal population in the area of Lok Sabha Member, they may recommend this amount for the creation of community assets in tribal areas outside of their constituency but within their State of election.
- The scheme can be converged in individual/stand-alone projects of other Central and State Government schemes provided such works of Central/State Governments Schemes are eligible under MPLADS.
Types of Recommended Work
- Key Priority Sectors: Drinking water facility, education, electricity facility, non-conventional energy resources, healthcare and sanitation, irrigation facilities, railways, roads, pathways and bridges, sports, agriculture and allied activities, self-help group development, urban development.
- Works Prohibited: construction of office and residential buildings for public and private agencies, land acquisition or paying compensation, naming assets after individuals, grants or loans to state/central relief fund, assets for individual benefits, works on lands belonging to religious groups, execution of works in unauthorized colonies.
- To implement their plans in an area, MPs have to recommend them to the District Authority of the respective Nodal District.
- The District Authorities then identify Implementing Agencies which execute the projects.
- The respective District Authority is supposed to oversee implementation, and has to submit monthly reports, audit reports, and work completion reports to the Nodal District Authority.
- All recommended eligible works should be sanctioned within 75 days from the date of receipt of the recommendation, after completing all formalities.
- The District Authority shall, however, inform MPs regarding rejection, if any, within 45 days from the date of receipt of recommendations, with reasons thereof.
Issues with MPLADS
- There have been cases of widespread corruption and misappropriation of funds. In a lot of cases, private contractors (which are not permitted) are engaged to implement the works.
- Also, there have been instances where expenditure has been incurred on works which are prohibited under the scheme.
Transparency and Accountability Issue
- Lack of transparency and accountability in the execution of this scheme has come in for adverse comment from a variety of institutions, including the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC), the Second Administrative Reforms Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor-General General of India.
- There are large amounts of unspent balances rising over the years, low utilisation of funds and an expenditure bias towards a particular sector.
- However, despite the severe indictment of this scheme from various quarters, there has been no visible effort by Parliament to stop the misuse of funds and to remove the anomalies.
- There are weaknesses in the process of sanction. The District Authorities tend to execute works without receiving any recommendations from MPs concerned or on the recommendation of the representatives of the MPs rather than the MPs themselves.
- Further, there are lapses on the monitoring and supervision front, with the District Authorities failing to inspect the required number of sanctioned works as well as in sending regular monitoring reports.
- There have been charges that the scheme goes against the spirit of the 73rd and the 74th Amendment, with MPs enjoying the privilege of an uninterrupted yearly flow of funds to do the work which local bodies are better placed to deliver.
- The constitutionality of the scheme has also been questioned, with the argument that the scheme erodes the notion of separation of powers, as the legislator directly becomes the executive.
- In 2002, the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution recommended immediate discontinuation of the MPLAD scheme on the ground that it was inconsistent with the spirit of federalism and distribution of powers between the centre and the state.
Suggestive Measures for Effective Implementation
- There needs to be a greater focus on regular monitoring by the District Authorities.
- Implementing agencies could involve the local community in the voluntary supervision of works.
- Since maintenance of public assets is where the system breaks down, arrangements can be made for the maintenance of assets or maintenance can be outsourced.
- In order to better assess the needs of the constituents, surveys can be conducted across the constituency. For this purpose, NGOs and local community can be involved.
- For the scheme to be more effective, an impact assessment study should be undertaken at the constituency level, on a yearly basis, to assess the benefits of the works implemented to the community at large.
- To tackle the issue of large unspent balances which have accumulated and are rising over the years, fund can be made lapsable. This way funds lying unused can be put to other uses.
- Thrust areas could be also modified so as to reflect the needs of the constituency, rather than taking a generic view.