Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Issues over Parliament Canteen Subsidy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Parliamentary behavior and decency

Food served in Parliament canteen is set to cost more as it will no longer be subsidised, Lok Sabha Speaker has informed.

I say there is no darkness, but ignorance.

-William Shakespeare

Why in news?

  • The low rate of food in the Parliament canteen has often attracted controversy, with critics objecting to lawmakers enjoying a cheap meal at the taxpayers’ expense.
  • Others have pointed out that the subsidy doesn’t benefit just MPs, as a host of other Parliament staff and security personnel also take their meals at the canteen.
  • However, in 2019, all MPs had unanimously decided to do away with the subsidy.
  • The annual revenue from Parliament catering was to the tune of Rs 15 to Rs 18 crore. It could annually save more than Rs 8 crore with the subsidy coming to an end.

Parliament Canteen Subsidy

  • A major furore over the subsidy had erupted in 2015 when a reply to an RTI query which revealed that the canteen got a subsidy of Rs 14 crore every year.
  • The item list received under the RTI Act revealed that items like ‘fish fried with chips’ were available at Rs 25, mutton cutlet at Rs 18, boiled vegetables at Rs 5, mutton curry with bone at Rs 20 and masala dosa at Rs 6.
  • These were the rates subsidised by 63 per cent, 65 per cent, 83 per cent, 67 per cent and 75 per cent respectively.
  • The caterers were being paid by the Ministry of Finance through Parliament.

Was the entire amount being spent on MPs’ food?

  • Apart from food, the subsidy is used for other expenses, like salaries of canteen staff. Also, many other people apart from the MPs use the canteen.
  • In fact, when the RTI query had been filed in 2015, the sales in the canteen for when Parliament was in session and when it wasn’t were almost the same.
  • Of the total subsidy of Rs 14 crore revealed by the RTI query, about Rs 11-12 crore would go towards the salary of the staff manning the canteen.

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