New Delhi: The Union Cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Monday (April 6) took a major decision to cut 30 per cent salary of all MPs for one year, and divert MPLAD funds for two years to fight against the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The deadly virus has so far claimed 111 lives with 4281 positive cases, but 319 have also recovered or cured.
Notably, the government will divert nearly Rs 7,900 crores of MPLAD to fund the battle against the deadly virus. The cabinet also approved an ordinance to amend the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 reducing allowances and pension by 30 per cent from April 1, 2020, for a year.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the President, the Vice President, governors of states have also voluntarily decided to take a pay cut as a social responsibility while addressing a press conference to inform about the cabinet decision.
“Charity begins at home,” Javadkar said and added that the pay cut also includes the prime minister and the Union ministers.
This is the temporary suspension of the MPLAD (Member of Parliament Local Area Development) fund scheme during financial years 2020-21 and 2021-22.
While there are 543 MPs in Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha has 245 members –788 in all. Each MP gets Rs 5 crore per annum as MPLAD and for two years it would be nearly Rs 7880 crores while by salary cut the government will save about Rs 29 crores a year.
The money will be put in the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI) and used for “managing health and the adverse impact of the outbreak of COVID19” in the country, Javadekar said.
While the salary cut, not more than 30,000 per month for each MP, may not be a big amount for most of the lawmakers, the suspension of MPLAD fund for two years will deny MPs their biggest tool to push development projects in their constituency.
All the revenue received by the government by way of taxes like income tax, central excise, customs and other receipts flowing to the government is credited into the CFI. All government expenditure is incurred from this fund and no amount can be withdrawn from the CFI without authorization from Parliament.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi indicated some easing of restrictions in a phased manner after the nationwide lockdown ends on April 14 but asked the countrymen to be ready for a long battle against the outbreak. He also addressed the party workers where he asked the countrymen to feel neither tired nor defeated in this long fight.
PM Modi also asked Union ministers to prepare a “graded plan” to slowly open departments in areas that have not emerged as hotspots of the COVID-19 pandemic, while chairing a meeting of the council of ministers through video conferencing.
Talking about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, he said that the government must work on war footing to mitigate the impact, adding that the ministries should prepare a business continuity plan, according to an official statement.
In Delhi, however, the total number of COVID-19 positive cases has increased to 525 today. Out of 525 cases, 329 cases are linked to Tablighi Jamaat, said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, adding “COVID-19 cases reached 523 in Delhi, with 20 fresh cases being reported in the last 24 hours including 10 persons of Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin.”
Kejriwal added, “One person died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, total deaths stand at 7. 25 patients are in ICU and 8 people are on the ventilator. The rest of the patients are stable.”
India continued its battle against coronavirus with the lockdown entering the 13th day and the total number of cases reached 4,281 after the biggest single-day jump of 704 on Monday.
There are 4,281 cases in the country including 3,851 active cases and 318 cured or discharged and 111 deaths, according to the latest update of the Health Ministry, which said there has been an increase of 704 COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, which is the biggest rise so far in India in a day.