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People hit by price rise, but MLAs enjoy pay hike

Monthly salary of CM will be Rs 1,64,000, Rs 1,40,000 for ministers and Rs 1,20,000 for MLAs; these public representatives will start receiving revised salaries with hikes ranging between Rs 40,000 and Rs 55,000 per month

STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, April 5: At a time when the skyrocketing rise in the prices of all essential commodities including fuel has left the common people high and dry in the State, the peoples’ representatives have reasons to cheer as they can carry heavier wallets with them from next month.
A day ahead of the conclusion of two month-long budget session of the State Assembly, the State government on Thursday tabled three Bills proposing substantial hike in the salaries, perks and other allowances of the Chief Minister, ministers, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, MLAs and leader of the opposition. Once the Bills are passed on Friday, these public representatives will start receiving revised salaries with hikes ranging between Rs 40,000 and Rs 55,000 per month. The revised salaries will be effective from April 1 this year. The last salary revision was effected in 2014.
MLAs from the ruling and opposition benches in the Assembly, who never miss an opportunity to engage themselves in debates and mudslinging on any issue under the sun, were conspicuous by their silence in the House when the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary tabled the three bills on salary hike.
As per revised salaries proposed by the three Bills, the Chief Minister will receive the highest gross salary (including basic pay) of Rs 1, 64,000 per month from the existing amount of Rs 1,17,000 followed by the Speaker who will draw Rs 1,50,000 per month. The Speaker currently draws a monthly salary of Rs 95,000 per month.
The monthly gross salary of ministers will be Rs 1,40,000 followed by Rs 1,38,000 for ministers of State, Rs 1,30,000 for Deputy Speaker, Rs 1,40,000 for the leader of the opposition and Rs 1,20,000 for MLAs.  All of them are currently receiving monthly gross salaries of Rs 95,000, Rs 89,000, Rs 89,000, Rs 95,000 and Rs 80,000 respectively.
Besides gross salaries, there may be a rise in allowances for all MLAs from the existing Rs 19,324 per month. A committee will take the fil call. The daily sitting allowance of an MLA will also see a rise from Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,850 whenever there is an assembly session and other meetings. The Bills tabled on Thursday also proposed a hike in the pension for former MLAs and family pension for their dependents. If all allowances are included, the total salary of a minister/MLA will be between Rs 1,75,000 to Rs 2 lakh per month.
After the Bills were placed, Speaker Hitendra th Goswami said, “From now on, revision of pay of MLAs will be revised every five years. And every such time a pay commission will be instituted.”
In January this year, the State government constituted a three-member commission headed by retired IAS officer PP Verma to review and ratiolize the pay structures and other emoluments of 126 MLAs and recommend a pay hike. The commission recently submitted its report to the Speaker and the latter accordingly sent the same to Committee on Members Amenities and Facilities of the Assembly. The Speaker as well as the committee approved the report and recommendations of the commission and sent these to the government for the fil seal of approval. The State Cabinet on Wednesday approved the report and recommendations of the commission.

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Ankur Kalita