Salaries of Legislators

  • The Tamil Nadu Assembly recently voted to double the salaries of its legislators
  • Maharashtra’s Assembly passed a Bill in 2016 that raised the monthly salary of its MLAs to above that of the President (Rs. 1.5 lakh per month)
  • India paid 2.7 lakh a month, which includes salaries and expenses, to every Member of Parliament in 2015.
Global examples
  • Public representatives in developing countries in Africa and Asia are routinely paid far above per capita GDP
  • Nigeria, pays its lawmakers more than 100 times its per capita GDP while in Kenya, its legislators get 76 times its per capita GDP.
  • Gross salary of an Italian lawmaker is the second highest among developed countries after the U.S
What’s the situation in India?
  • India’s initial start was promising. The first cabinet meeting of Jawaharlal Nehru took a collective decision not to avail of their salaries for six months, given the enormous economic suffering in India then.
  • Today, parliamentary representatives have arrogated the authority to increase their own fiscal compensation by 1,250% over the last two decades — a case of questionable moral rectitude.
Main concern?
  • Allowances should be in proportion to the services that they have rendered to the nation, but in the past two decades, Parliament has seen less than 50% of Bills being scrutinised by parliamentary committees, defeating the very purpose of a deliberative Parliament
  • Money Bills, like those associated with Aadhaar, have been passed without being referred to a committee.
A survey of parliamentary salaries
  • It was conducted in 2013 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union across 104 Parliaments highlighted that salaries in about 55% are linked to a structured scale, typically linked to the civil service (France, Japan) or ministerial salaries
  • Mature democracies typically have separate independent bodies to establish parliamentary salaries; such as the Remuneration Tribunal in Australia or the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers in South Africa.
Way forward
  • Instead of seeking pay in line with the private sector, India’s public representatives should be paid a reasonable wage, which offers gratitude for their commitment to life as a public servant
  • Require an external, independent body to determine parliamentary salaries.
  • Salary reviews should be conducted through an institutionalised process
  • Increments should be determined through a transparent and accountable process
  • The issue of decline in parliamentary sittings could be partially alleviated by linking salaries to a minimum attendance of parliamentary sessions
Related Questions:
  • “We need an external, independent body to determine parliamentary salaries” Examine?



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