Chennai/New Delhi: Tamil Nadu MLAs have given themselves a generous hike of Rs 50,000, taking their monthly salaries to Rs 1.05 lakh at a time when farmers from the state have been vociferously protesting for loan waivers.
Apart from the salary hike, the pension of the MLAs has gone up from Rs 12,000 to Rs 20,000, while the local area development fund to develop respective constituencies was increased from Rs 2 crore to Rs 2.6 crore.
The announcement to the effect was made by Chief Minister E Palaniswami in the Assembly on Wednesday.
A similar pitch was made in Parliament when Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal and Congress MP Anand Sharma demanded a pay hike for MPs.
“Indian parliamentarians are the worst-paid in the world,” former Union minister Anand Sharma said moments before the Upper House took up the crippling farmer distress up for discussion. The heated debate led to several disruptions in proceedings.
Speaking later to CNN-News18, Agarwal defended the demand. “If journalists and judiciary stop asking for better salaries, we will also stop. Why is it a problem if we get hikes? Why can’t MPs ask for salary hikes if judges can? We have demanded what we deserve under the 7th Pay Commission,” he said.
In Tamil Nadu Assembly, Speaker P Dhanapal said he could see happiness was writ large on the face of all MLAs cutting across party lines. He was happy too about the increase.
Allowances for the Chief Minister, Ministers, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition and the Government Chief Whip were also increased with (retrospective) effect from July 1 this year.
Similarly, 'MLA Constituency Development Scheme' fund allocation was hiked to Rs 2.50 crore from the present Rs 2 crore from this year (2017-18), Palaniswami said.
He said the fund could be used for initiatives, including laying roads, constructing additional buildings for schools and PDS outlets.
Pension for former MLAs and members of the now defunct legislative council will be increased to Rs 20,000 from the present Rs 12,000.
The Chief Minister also hiked the monthly pension for journalists to Rs 10,000 from the current Rs 8,000 and allowance for the Assembly Watch and Ward staff as well. Giving the break-up of MLA's pay hike, he said their salary would be increased from Rs 8,000 to Rs 30,000.
Similarly, compensatory allowance will be Rs 10,000 from Rs 7,000 while telephone allowance has been revised to Rs 7,500 from Rs 5,000.
The constituency allowance goes up to Rs 25,000 from Rs 10,000 and consolidated allowance to Rs 5,000 from Rs 2,500. Vehicle allowance will be upwardly revised to Rs 25,000 from 20,000. Postal allowance will continue to be same at Rs 2,500.
As regards the Chief Minister, Ministers and Speaker, their Compensatory allowance will now be Rs 15,000 and expenditure allowance Rs 10,000 and constituency allowance Rs 25,000.
The Deputy Speaker, Leader of the Opposition and Chief Government Whip will get compensatory and constituency allowances on par with Ministers, their expenditure allowance will be slightly lower at Rs 7,500.
Family pension for kin of late MLAs will be hiked by Rs 10,000. They get 50 per cent of the pension drawn by pensioner-legislators.
The annual medical allowance (for retired MLAs) will be increased to Rs 25,000 from the present Rs 12,000.
(With PTI inputs)