New Delhi, 28 May-2014, Hakeem Irfan/DNA: The burden on state exchequer is likely to go down at least by Rs125 crore in next five years as prime minister Narendra Modi kept his cabinet small.
Modi selected just 45 council of ministers, while the UPA-II government had 70 ministers, which they attributed to ‘coalition compulsions.’ The conservative estimate of the salaries of the personal staff, their perks and allowances of each cabinet minister is around Rs one crore every year. This estimate excludes foreign travels made by the ministers during their tenure. Interestingly, the last government in the general budget 2013-14 has earmarked Rs270.05 crore for the tour expenses of Union ministers.
The difference of 25 ministers would immediately relieve at least 375 government officials, employed as personal staff of these ministers.
The estimated amount of money saved by each minister would be around rs one crore every year and thus 25 ministers would save Rs 25 crore every year compounding to Rs125 crore in five years. The breakdown of the annual Rs one crore saving would be more than Rs 65 lakh withdrawn as salary of 15 employees, Rs six lakh allowances minister gets from the government under different clauses. And around Rs 25 lakhs he would get as part of the salaries and other benefits. Rest of the amount for his miscellaneous expenses.
As per the rules a cabinet minister is entitled to 15 personal staff while minister of state and MoS holding independent charge is entitled to 13-14 personal staff members. The staff includes a personal secretary, two additional PS and two assistant PS, a personal assistant, second personal assistant, Hindi stenographer, lower division clerk, driver, attendant and four peons.
However, number of personal staff of any minister most of the time, exceeds the requisite limit. For example, a Railways minister in UPA-II government had around 50 officials working in his personal staff.
The salaries of the personal staff of each minister, which includes at least 3-5 IAS officers, compounds to more than Rs five lakhs every month, thus making it more than Rs60 lakh annually. The staff also gets government accommodation, which differs as per the rank of each official. And if the officials stays in private accommodation the government pays the rent.
Besides, every minister other than the salary as regular member of parliament, receives a monthly allowance of Rs2,000, and daily announce to function as a minister. The minister, as per the rough estimate gets additional Rs50,000 monthly, under different clauses, which adds up to around Rs30 lakh in five years. The other facilities associated with the cabinet berth, health benefits, travel and expenses for the whole family. The minister also gets an advance to buy motor cars.
However, it remains to be seen, whether prime minister would continue with the same strength of ministers or increase it soon.