The stalled parliamentary proceedings during the Budget session have cost the nation almost Rs 190 crore so far, even without factoring in massive indirect costs of legislative inaction.
With the 22 sittings having witnessed only 25% productivity in the Lok Sabha and 35% in the Rajya Sabha so far, the current session will rank among the worst in nearly a decade, eclipsed only by three sessions that were washed out due to 2G scam, demonetisation and Coalgate.
The cost of the washout is based on the loss of productivity and the expenses of running both the houses of Parliament, apart from salaries, allowances and other facilities enjoyed by members of Parliament (during the washout period).
The expenses of each sitting of Parliament have been arrived at by dividing the total cost of running both the Houses in FY18 (excluding remuneration of MPs) by the number of sittings. Since attending Parliament, although very important, is just one of the several functions of an MP, the cost of washout factors in the remuneration of MPs only for the days when they were supposed to take part in Parliamentary proceedings but they didn’t. Finally, productivity of both the Houses is taken into account to estimate the cost of washout.
Ironically, one of the key issues for the disruption of House proceedings — the $2-billion fraud at Punjab National Bank — has put a question mark over the passage of a Bill aimed at attaching assets of fugitive economic offenders like Nirav Modi. The Fugitive economic offenders Bill has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA still doesn’t have adequate number, but is yet to be cleared. However, the Bill has been cleared by the Lok Sabha in the current session. The crucial finance Bill was cleared in the Lok Sabha without any discussion. Even, a no-confidence motion against the government, moved in the Lok Sabha by various Opposition parties, couldn’t be taken up due to din. Apart from the PNB fraud, demands for a special state status to Andhra Pradesh and the constitution of the Cauvery Water Board were the key factors for the frequent disruptions.
The government has estimated the salaries, allowances and other benefits enjoyed by Lok Sabha MPs at Rs 277.50 crore in FY18, up 5.3% from a year earlier. Similarly, salaries and other perks of Rajya Sabha MPs are estimated at Rs 123.29 crore, representing a 4.4% hike from a year earlier. The total establishment expenditure of the Lok Sabha, including the salaries and allowances of MPs and staff and other costs, is estimated at Rs 656 crore in FY18, against Rs 570.4 crore a year earlier. Such expenditure relating to the Rajya Sabha in FY18 is expected to have touched Rs 384.1 crore, against Rs 350.1 crore a year before.
The Budget session started on January 29 and went into a recess between February 10 and March 5 before resuming again. It will be over on April 6. Last year’s Budget session achieved a 108% productivity in the Lok Sabha and 86% in the Rajya Sabha.