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An Ordinance to effect a 30% salary cut of Members of Parliament for one year was passed in April last. The Ordinance was ratified by the Lok Sabha in the ongoing Parliament session on Tuesday. The cut in salaries was necessitated to meet the exigencies arising out COVID-19 pandemic. The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was unanimously passed by the members of the Lower House.
The MPLADS was also summarily suspended for two financial years (2020-21 to 2021-22). The saved amount will go to the Consolidated Fund of India to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
MPs get a salary of approximately Rs one lakh per month. A cut of 30% would reduce the salary to Rs 70,000 per month. The combined strength of MPs in the Lok Sabha (543) and Rajya Sabha (245) is 788. Hence there will be a monthly savings of Rs 2.36 crore. The MPLADS scheme allows an MP to spend Rs 5 crore annually for specific development schemes in the constituency. The amount saved from the MPLADS is 3,940 crore annually. This amount can now be deployed for emergency measures that are either related to procurement of RT-PCR testing kits, Rapid Antigen testing kits, PPEs and in strengthening the public health care system which is n shambled. But fighting Covid also means reviving small businesses and entrepreneurships that have suffered during these months of Covid. It also means ploughing funds into the agricultural sector which is the mainstay of farmers. The ongoing farmer’s protests across the country should push the Government to consider their plight and help them come out of the farm crises they were being hit by in the past and which has exacerbated now with Covid
In the North Eastern states where revenue generation is very low or non-existent and where economic activities, mainly tourism related, have come to a standstill, young entrepreneurs who have invested in tourism-related facilities need to find new livelihoods to cope with the economic stress until tourism becomes a viable activity post Covid. The entire North Eastern Region is known for its agricultural and horticultural products. The region produces several varieties of fruits ranging from pineapples, oranges, peaches, plums and other local fruits. These are mostly wasted because they are perishable and there are no cold chains or fruit processing units that can take care of the entire value chain.
Meghalaya has the best turmeric from Lakadong in Jaintia Hills with a curcumin content of 7.9% – the highest in the world and known for its medicinal values but it has not yet been adequately branded and marketed. This is the time to seriously invest money and method into these activities to enable small farmers to survive. MPs from the state should make a pitch to bring in funds for these activities.