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Amid opposition from the DMK and ally Congress, a Bill was today adopted in the state assembly, setting in motion the process for hiking MLAs' salaries besides allowances for the Chief Minister and Ministers. The bill seeks to give effect to a decision taken last year by the government to hike the pay for legislators with effect from July 1,2017. Its passage by a voice vote saw heated exchanges between the treasury and opposition benches. When it was was taken up for voting, Leader of the Opposition, M K Stalin (DMK) said a nearly 100 per cent hike for legislators was unwarranted at a time when transport workers had been protesting seeking a wage revision. Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said DMK members may give their increased amounts to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund if they did not want the hike. Stalin retorted that they had no hesitation in doing so till such time transport workers got their hike. Workers of State run transport corporations had struck work for eight days seeking wage revision and settlement of dues for retired and working employees. Normalcy returned only today with the strike's withdrawal. Opposing the hike, Stalin said "we should be an example for others," which was endorsed by the Congress. He said the hike was not needed when the government had been hit by financial constraints. Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy Panneerselvam opposed Stalin raking up the transport workers' strike. Palaniswami said there should be no comparison between the two issues. Palaniswami and Panneerselvam said the main opposition party was attempting to gain political mileage out of the issue which was denied by Stalin. Panneerselvam said the decision was announced last July and till now the main opposition had not opposed it. Both Panneerselvam and Palaniswami said not all the legislators were well-off. Panneerselvam, referring to an MLA's financial condition, said there were several such legislators. He recalled an earlier instance when a salary hike for legsilators was opposed. At that time, he said, then Chief Minister, the late J Jayalalithaa, had said those who did not want the hike could give it away to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund. Those who opposed it now could do so, he said. On July 19 last year, Palaniswami announced in the House the government's decision to hike the salary and allowances with retrospective effect from July 1. A bill to give effect to the decision was tabled in the House on January 10. DMK had also voiced its opposition to it, then. Rival AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran too had said outside the House that it was not necessary adding he was opposing it. The adopted Bill amends the Tamil Nadu Payment of Salaries Act, 1951 giving effect to government's last year hike proposal, which would entail an additional outgo of Rs 25.32 crore per annum. With this, the salaries of legislators are set to be doubled from Rs 55,000 to Rs 1,05,000 per month, an increase of 90.91 per cent. Allowances for the Chief Minister, Ministers, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition and the government chief whip will also increase. The Deputy Chief Minister is also now included in the Bill under this category eligible for increased allowances, Pension for former MLAs and members of the now defunct legislative council will also increase to Rs 20,000 from Rs 12,000 per month. Family pension for relatives of late MLAs has been hiked by Rs 10,000.
They get 50 per cent of the pension drawn by pensioner-legislators. The annual medical allowance for retired MLAs has been increased to Rs 25,000 from Rs 12,000.
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