Since the change of guard took place in the state in 2017, Captain Amarinder Singh led government,
especially the Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, has been consistently cribbing about the
empty coffers. Having received the same cold replies for numerous times, people of Punjab had gradually stopped expecting the developmental works in the state from the Congress government.
However, the recent Assembly session shocked the voters of the state when a sub-committee
of Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Friday recommended a two-fold jump in the salaries and allowances
of MLAs. The move drew sharp criticism from the opposition parties. If once goes by the government’s own claims, the financial condition of the state is so dismal that it is not in a position to bear the extra burden of such steep proposed hikes. The sub-committee has proposed that the legislators’ total monthly salary including allowances be hiked from the current Rs 95,500 to over Rs 2 lakh. The salary of a legislator at present is Rs 25,000 and has been proposed to be hiked to Rs 55,000. In addition to the enhanced salary, it has been proposed that the constituency allowance be hiked from the current Rs 25,000 to Rs 60,000, while the compensatory allowance be increased to Rs 15,000 up from Rs 5,000 at present. Similarly, the subcommittee proposed a hike in sumptuary, water and electricity and daily allowances of the MLAs, adding the hike in the fuel budget for the security vehicles of the lawmakers as well. Lodging a strong objection against the controversial move, the general public of Punjab is now terming it a gesture of “rubbing salt on the wound”. As the state government has already failed on the employment front, now the government’s proposed move of MLAs’ salary hike is being seen in an absolute contrast of its decision to regularize the contractual teachers with a heavy axe fall on their monthly salary. The government needs to recall that such recommendations have been made at a time when the government does not have the money to pay the salaries to government employees, buying medicines for hospitals and incur expenditure on development, as the finance minister loudly claims. Even the infrastructure for providing the basic civic amenities is also crying for the attention. As the Congress government is about to complete two years, rather than waiting for the people to put a slap of shame for showing the double standards, it is the high time for the rulers to focus on delivering the promises made to masses while seeking votes in 2017.
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