Contentious Parliament Canteen Subsidy Goes

NEW DELHI, Jan 19: One of the privileges the Members of Parliament were enjoying all these years is set to go with the budget session of Parliament beginning from January 29.

The Narendra Modi government has ended the subsidy provided to the canteens in parliament house and the food and beverages supplied to the MPs will now become costlier.

The canteen subsidy for the MPs had been a subject of criticism from the general public who believed that the elected representatives of the people earning fat salaries and a number of other privileges should not be provided subsidized food when they attend the Parliament sessions. The subsidy for most of the food articles usually were in the region of 50 to 70 per cent of the market price.

The stoppage of the government subsidy was announced by the Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla on Tuesday while giving details about the arrangements being made for the coming budget session of the House.

While Birla did not specify the financial implications of the move, sources said the Lok Sabha Secretariat could annually save more than Rs eight crores with the subsidy coming to an end. The Lok Sabha budget is financed from the state exchequer.

Talking to reporters about preparations for the next Parliament session, Birla also said the Parliament canteens would now be run by ITDC in place of Northern Railways.

Birla said all Members of Parliament would be requested to undergo the COVID-19 test before the start of the Budget session.

While Rajya Sabha will sit from 9 am to 2 pm, Lok Sabha will function in the second half from 4-8 pm. The Question Hour will be allowed during the session for an already fixed time of one hour.

He said all arrangements have also been made for RTPCR COVID-19 tests of MPs near their residence.

In Parliament premises, the RTPCR tests will be conducted on January 27-28, while arrangements have also been made for these tests of families and staff members of MPs.

Birla said the vaccination drive policy finalised by the Centre and states would apply to parliamentarians as well.

(Manas Dasgupta)