In a bonanza for the state’s MLAs, the government has doubled their salary from Rs 75,000 a month to Rs 1.5 lakh.
With the hike, the salaries of elected representatives have been brought on a par with that of bureaucrats. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, his cabinet ministers, the leader of opposition in both Houses, the Speaker and the chairman of the Council will now draw the same salary as the chief secretary, while ministers of state, the deputy speaker and deputy chairman of the Council will earn as much as the additional chief secretary. MLAs and MLCs will take home the same pay packet as the principal secretary.
Significantly salaries of elected representatives will now automatically increase each time the government announces a pay hike for bureaucrats. The government will no longer need to obtain the approval of the legislature for a hike in salaries. The seventh pay commission will soon become applicable for central government employees.
The salary of the MLAs personal assistant has been increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000. The MLA can now also appoint a telephone operator. The salary of cabinet ministers will now be Rs 1.8 lakh to Rs 2 lakh per month. The pension for a retired elected representative has been increased by Rs 10,000. With this an elected representative will draw a pension of Rs 50,000 per month for one term. The amount will double depending upon the number of terms she/he has served. The government held late night negotiations with the opposition to finalise the salaries and passed the Bill on Friday.
Activists have slammed this move, especially when Maharashtra’s debt burden stood at Rs 3.79 lakh crore as on March 31, 2016, the highest among all the Indian states.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis defended the hike saying it is necessary to help them to do their duty. “The hike is necessary to keep the MLAs working to their full potential,” he said. However the chief minister could not provide information on the burden on the state exchequer.
Leader of opposition in the council, Dhananjay Munde supported the salary hike and said that it is still low as compared to the MLAs in other states. “PAs were getting only Rs 10,000. Some retired MLAs have no other source of income,” he said. Asked if the salary hike would ensure good governance and no corruption, Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said they have been constantly raising issues of corruption in government. As for accountability it is for the government to ensure the same, he said.