News : Earlier this month, the government suspended the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) Scheme so that these funds would be available for its COVID-19 management efforts.
What is the MPLAD Scheme?
- MPLAD is a central government scheme, under which MPs can recommend development programmes involving spending of Rs 5 crore every year in their respective constituencies.
- MPs from both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, including nominated ones, can do so.
- States have their version of this scheme with varying amounts per MLA.
- Delhi has the highest allocation under MLALAD; each MLA can recommend works for up to Rs 10 crore each year.
- In Punjab and Kerala, the amount is Rs 5 crore per MLA per year; in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Karnataka, it is Rs 2 crore.
- In Uttar Pradesh, it was recently increased from Rs 2 crore to Rs 3 crore.
How does the scheme work?
- MPs and MLAs do not receive any money under these schemes.
- The government transfers it directly to the respective local authorities.
- The legislators can only recommend works in their constituencies based on a set of guidelines.
- For the MPLAD Scheme, the guidelines focus on the creation of durable community assets like roads, school buildings etc.
- Recommendations for non-durable assets can be made only under limited circumstances.
When did the scheme start?
- Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao announced the scheme on December 23, 1993 in Lok Sabha.
- He mentioned that it was being started at the request of MPs across parties.
How long are the schemes supposed to continue?
- The central scheme has continued uninterrupted for 27 years.
- It is budgeted through the government’s finances and continues as long as the government is agreeable.
- In 2018, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the scheme until the term of the 14th Finance Commission, that is March 31, 2020.
- Until 2017, nearly 19 lakh projects worth Rs 45,000 crore had been sanctioned under the MPLAD Scheme.
- Third-party evaluators appointed by the government reported that the creation of good quality assets had a “positive impact on the local economy, social fabric and feasible environment”.
- Further, 82% of the projects have been in rural areas and the remaining in urban/semi-urban areas.
- First, that it is inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution as it co-opts legislators into executive functioning.
- The second criticism stems from allegations of corruption associated with allocation of works. The Comptroller and Auditor General has on many occasions highlighted gaps in implementation.