KL NEWS NETWORK
Ms Mehbooba Mufti led PDP-BJP government on Thursday, the last day of the month long budget session, doubled the salaries of the lawmakers and ministers. Even the pensions of the former lawmakers were substantially hiked.
The twin decisions will add Rs 20 crore to the overall spending of the government on lawmakers. Of this Rs 8 crore will be the additional liability on the retired MLAs’ front.
The house passed the amended J&K State Legislature Act 1960 and J&K Ministers and Ministers of State salaries act 1956 almost in a jiffy. Same was the case with the law that governs the pensions of the retired lawmakers.
Interestingly, NC, Congress and most of the Independents excepting Engineer Rashid Sheikh had walked out and boycotted the proceedings when the twin amendments came up. The laws were passed by the treasury benches in absence of any opposition.
Under the new law, the salary of a lawmaker was doubled from Rs 80,000 per month to Rs 1, 60,000.
Chief Minister who was withdrawing a salary of Rs 45000 a month will now get Rs 70,000.
A cabinet minister was drawing Rs 40,000 of salary and now he is entitled to Rs 65000.
Ministers of State, usually referred to as junior ministers were drawing Rs 35000 a month but now they will get Rs 60,000.
By a separate amendment in J&K State legislature members’ pension bill 2016, the government hiked the monthly pension of retired MLAs from Rs 28,000 to Rs 50,000. Besides, their monthly medical allowance was increased to Rs 5,000. But on the suggestion of Deputy Speaker Nazir Khan Gurezi, Finance Minister Dr Haseeb A Drabu agreed to take it to Rs 10,000 per month by issuing an SRO.
Hike in their packages was one of the key demands that transcended the party lines. Mufti Sayeed government in its last term had decided to create an institutional mechanism that would help in hiking the packages as and when required. They had proposed setting up a committee of lawmakers and top officers that would sit, may be, once in five years to take a call on the hike.
Ms Mehbooba government had taken a different course by creating a house committee with Ali Mohammad Sagar as its head. Sagar, however, resigned at the last moment.
When the issue was finally taken up by the lawmakers, Chief Minister intervened and announced doubling the salary.
The government said that hike in salary of members including ministers would cost public exchequer Rs 12 crore a year. For increase in pension, the yearly costs were put at Rs 8 crore a year.
J&K has a bicameral legislature with the lower house having 79 members and two nominated members. The Legislative Council has 32 berths but rarely has it functioned with full capacity.