Rs 5000000 cr a Year

March 11, 2011 will be a historic day for the political class i.e. our people’s representatives following the Union Government’s decision to increase the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD) fund from the existing Rs 2 crore a year to Rs 5 crore a year for each MP. In five years therefore, each MP will get Rs 25 crore for the development of his/her constituency. This is huge public money at the disposal of a single person. According to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, this will involve an extra annual expenditure of Rs 2,370 crore. As expected, there is no opposition in Parliament to such a move and our MPs atleast for a few days have forgotten all about the 2G scam and other issues worth their fight. As per the justification put out in the media, there was a long-pending demand from MPs across party lines to increase their local area development fund, as they found it inadequate to serve the vast constituency areas. It is only a matter of time before our MLAs will also want another hike in the Local Area Development Fund (LADF).  
While the benefit of doubt must be given to our MPs, however the broad viewpoint (which may not be shared by our MPs) is that there is an urgent need to formulate tougher norms for the scheme. Many audit reports have shown a need to plug loopholes. It is also alleged that although various committees have recommended for a thorough review of the MPLAD Scheme because of the serious irregularities in its implementation, successive governments at the Centre have done little to plug the loopholes and prevent the improper use of thousands of crores of public money in the name of development. Since the Finance Minister has also mentioned about the loopholes in usage of MPLAD money and at the same time talked about the Comptroller and Auditor-General report, Parliament through its appropriate forum should look into the report and come out with recommendations to improve the scheme. With the Congress led UPA government coming out with strongly worded action plans to deal with corruption within the system, it is only appropriate that proper checks are incorporated while doling out such a huge amount to our MPs.
We cannot stop pay hikes or other schemes for our politicians. Only recently, the Union Cabinet approved the bill to hike MPs' salary from current Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000 per month. However the point that should be noted is that each rise in salary or other pays should be matched by performance. This is the only thing that we expect our representatives for fulfill. As long as they do their job with hard work and honesty, no one should complain even if it means a burden on the exchequer. Our elected representatives with all the extra perks must be inspired to serve the people even more. It is a time to introspect for our MPs and MLAs, the privilege they are enjoying and the more important duty and responsibility to serve the people. It is a call to their conscience to give their outmost for the people who they should serve with sincerity and honesty. Whether it is Rs 2 crores or Rs 5 crores what is needed is proper implementation of the scheme. More funds and salary means more workload and responsibility. And this should be applied equally for our MPs. If a pay hike or increase in MPLADF is welcomed and justified, it makes sense to enforce some kind of accountability also.