For better use: On MPLADS funds-THE HINDU-09-04-2020
The suspension of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme for two years to boost the funding available for the COVID-19 fight is a step in the right direction. It may appear at first blush that the decision may undermine the decentralised manner of funding local area development. However, past experience has been that some members do not utilise their full entitlement and that there is a gap between recommendation made by members and implementation by the administration under this scheme. The immediate benefit now is the freeing up of about Rs.7,900 crore over a two-year period so that it can be spent on boosting the health infrastructure needed to combat the pandemic.
This is the second announcement regarding MPLADS that the Centre has made after the disease outbreak. Last month, it allowed utilisation of MPLADS funds to the extent of at least Rs.5lakh by each MP to purchase medical equipment for government hospitals in their constituencies. Many members made immediate use of the one-time dispensation to recommend the procurement of N95 masks, personal protective equipment, and ventilators. Now that the entire scheme has been suspended, the government should ensure that recommendations already made are acted upon immediately.
While the transfer of these sums to the Consolidated Fund of India would help judicious deployment anywhere in the country, based on an assessment of the varying needs in different regions, it would redound to the government’s credit if the genuine efforts made by members to help their constituents are not frustrated. The current suspension gives some scope for a reconsideration of the scheme in its totality.