Topic: General Studies 2:
- Separation of powers between various organs
- Good Governance
- Welfare/Developmental issues
MPLADS: Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme
Context: The Union Cabinet approved a 30% cut in the salaries of all Members of Parliament and a two-year suspension of MPLAD scheme so that the amount saved can go to the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI) to fight COVID-19.
What is MPLADS Scheme or Sansad Nidhi Yojana?
- It is a central sector scheme for MPs to recommend works of developmental nature in their constituencies
- It was launched in December, 1993
- The emphasis is on creating durable community assets based on locally felt needs.
- Parent Body: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI)
- The funds – Rs. 5 crore/annum/MP – under the scheme are non-lapsable.
- Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
- MPs have only recommendatory role and the district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works, select the implementing agencies and monitor it.
Criticism of the scheme
- Against the separation of powers: It allows individual legislators to encroach on executive role of planning & implementation works
- Promotes Patronage Politics: MPLADS gives scope for MPs to utilise the funds as a source of patronage that they can dispense at will.
- Inefficiency: Gap between recommendation made by MPs and implementation by the district administration
- Unused Funds: Some members do not utilise their full entitlement
- Weak monitoring of the scheme has led to allegations of misuse & corruption
Views about the scheme
- Judiciary: The Supreme Court has upheld the scheme but called for a robust accountability regime
- Second ARC: It recommended its abrogation altogether, highlighting the problems of the legislator stepping into the shoes of the executive
Why MPLADS was suspended for two years?
- It frees up financial resources of about ₹7,900 crore
- It will boost the funding available for the COVID-19 fight
- The funds can be spent on boosting the health infrastructure needed to combat the pandemic.
- Judicious usage of Funds: Money will now go into CFI and will be spent based on an assessment of the varying needs in different regions of India.
Challenges ahead due the suspension of scheme
- Political discontent: Funding under the scheme was source of much goodwill for elected representatives.
- Centralising tendency: The step undermines the decentralised manner of funding local area development
- There are dangers that allocations of freed up funds can be discriminatory.
Connecting the dots:
- Parliamentary System – Merits and Challenges
- Other instances where there is breach of Separation of Power