Archive for April, 2010

Gifts to the rich

April 25, 2010 1 comment

Thanks to Paranjoy Guha Thakurta for writing what must be in the minds of many — the government gets nothing by way of service taxes from doctors and lawyers, and could have gained an additional Rs. 10000 crores from taxing these two professions alone! And what he does not ask has been on my mind for a while — many doctors and lawyers with a private practice, i.e. outside a hospital or a firm, do not offer a receipt unless asked. Of course they always provide a receipt when asked, but many clients do not bother to ask for a receipt, especially if they are not reimbursed for the bills. Lawyers’ bills are not reimbursed in general anyway.

Guha Thakurta also mentions that `revenue foregone’, i.e. the revenue given up by the government by way of exemptions and concessions (and `incentives’ I suppose) to companies rose from Rs 4,58,516 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 5,40,269 crore in 2009-10. I wonder how much revenue is lost through not auditing the accounts of doctors and lawyers.

A possible RTI question would be how much income — outside salaries, if any — is declared by these professionals, and how many doctors and lawyers have been investigated by the Income Tax dept for lifestyles not appropriate to declared incomes.

Salaries of MPs

April 17, 2010 1 comment

For my previous post, I tried to look up the annual expenditure for the parliament and its members. Several sites show up in a search, many showing a figure of Rs. 855 cr (8.55 billion) for the salaries and concessions for the 534 members of the Lok Sabha. No source for this figure is given anywhere, but the parliament website lists the salaries and concessions.These figures were valid for 2001-2006. The site does not say if they have been amended.

So I find:

Monthly salary: Rs. 12000/- p.m.

Daily allowance: Rs. 500/- per day on duty (Lok Sabha/committee in session)

Constituency allowance: Rs. 10000/- p.m.

Office expenses: Rs. 14000/- p.m. (including Rs. 10000/- paid directly to people employed for secretarial work)

Travel: 32 air journeys/yr for the member and spouse or any number of companions or relatives! And these air travels, if unused, may be carried over to the next year. Plus rail fares and other fares.

Accommodation: Hostel is provided.

Electricity: 50000 units p.a.

Furniture washing allowance: Rs. 30000/- every three months.

Telephone: No charge for rental and installation plus 50000 calls p.a.Plus 20000 free calls p.a. for those with constituencies more than 1000 km away from New Delhi.

And lots of benefits for retired parliamentarians as well.

So the figures given on those pages are not totally without basis.

However, although these figures look huge when added up, I don’t find them really over the top. An MP does need to make a lot of phone calls to the home constituency and to other members of the same party or to other MPs. Most of these calls would be made by the personal assistant of the MP, in relation to what the MP is actually expected to do.

The MP will generally have a lot of visitors as well — furniture does get dirty when you have people using them all the time.

Electricity usage seems to be a little on the high side. A significant part of that is due to the air-conditioning. And I find it difficult to grudge the MPs their use of air-conditioning — anybody in a position of making decisions should be allowed to keep their cool, in my opinion.

32 air journeys are somewhat high, but not totally unexpected for those with constituencies away from the capital. But `any number of companions’ seems way over the top.

These figures do not include the hundreds (thousands?) of employees of the parliament and their expenses.

I would be very interested to know the total annual expenditure for salaries and allowances of everyone in the parliament, Lok sabha and Rajya sabha taken together. And the expenditure per day of session. Not that it would shame any of these MPs and stop them from creating a furore over trivialities.

Parliament on Tharoor

April 17, 2010 1 comment

The parliament is in turmoil. The opposition is up in arms against Shashi Tharoor for his involvement in the circus called IPL.The Lok Sabha was adjourned twice yesterday over this issue, and finally Tharoor made a statement claiming that he had done no wrong.

It would appear that the democratically elected members of this body, with huge maintenance bills, have nothing serious to discuss, and would rather stop working, and stop their colleagues from working, on frivolous grounds.