New Delhi: BJD leader and Lok Sabha MP from Kendrapara in Odisha Baijayant Panda yesterday demanded removal of food subsidy extended to the Parliamentarians in Parliament canteen to raise public trust and confidence in lawmakers.
"I am of this opinion as well and believe that the removal of food subsidy for MPs will be a right step in effecting greater public trust and confidence in our role as law makers," he said in a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
In this regard, he also drew the attention towards the recent media coverage on the issue where the citizens have remarked on the "oddity" of this privilege.
Panda's demand came in the backdrop of a growing outrage over the privileges extended to the MPs.
An RTI reply last month revealed that Parliament canteens serving to Members of Parliament got a total subsidy of Rs 60.7 crore during the last five years with items like 'puri sabji' being sold at 88 per cent subsidised rates.
Stating that the recent efforts by the government to encourage the voluntary giving up of subsidised cooking gas by those citizens who can afford it was laudable, Panda said MPs too should give up food subsidy extended to them following the same logic.
"It makes the saved funds available to help those citizens who need it the most," he said.
The RTI reply showed that the canteens received a subsidy of Rs 10.4 crore, Rs 11.7 crore, Rs 11.9 crore, Rs 12.5 crore and Rs 14 crore during the years 2009-10, 2010-11, 2012-13, 2013-14 respectively which totals to around Rs 60.7 crore.
It also said that the canteens in Parliament serve 76 mouth watering dishes ranging from simple boiled egg to various mutton and chicken dishes which have been subsidised from over 150 per cent to about 63 per cent.
The only item which was sold for a marginal profit was 'roti' for which raw items cost 77 paisa while sold at Re one, it said, while 'khomani ka meetha' being served at market price of Rs 15 for piece of three.