Lawmakers giving themselves raises and deciding their salaries may soon not be upto parliamentarians. Instead, a committee should be created to recommend it, the government wants to propose. Disruptions have dictated parliamentary agenda, and there has been public outcry over the right of lawmakers to decide their pay and perks. The public pressure seems to be working, as the National Democratic Alliance government is ready with a proposal which if accepted by all parties and legislative entities, may take away the right of lawmakers to pass bills for their own salary hike.
The parliamentary affairs minister, Venkaiah Naidu has proposed a three member independent Emoluments Commission, to recommend the salaries for lawmakers. This proposal will be taken up at the two-day All India Whips’ Conference, at Visakhapatnam starting September 29.
The agenda note states that “The setting up of an independent Emoluments Commission… will not only put to rest the public outcry and media criticism over MPs themselves deciding their salaries.”
The proposal suggests that the “salary should not be so low, as to deter suitable candidates or so high as to make pay the primary attraction for the job… Salary should reflect level of responsibility, and those who chose to make Parliament a full-time career should be adequately rewarded to reflect their responsibilities.”
The government is backing its proposal with a comprehensive analysis. The note indicates that Indian lawmakers are actually one of the lowest paid in the world.
“As per a comparative analysis of Members of Parliament in 37 developing and developed countries… MPs of only in six countries i.e Tunisia, Venezuela , Sri Lanka, Nepal, Haiti and Panama are drawing salary less than that of Indian MPs,” said the note.
If a consensus is arrived at the conference, the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 will be suitably amended. Interestingly, it will be yet another process India may eventually borrow from United Kingdom where the salaries of lawmakers are determined by independent bodies.