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Price rise soon in Parliament canteen

The much-reviled subsidy on food served in Parliament canteens for lawmakers, government staff and journalists is set to go with a broad consensus emerging on the issue at the Business Advisory Committee of the Lok Sabha.

Dec 06, 2019, 07.14 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: The much-reviled subsidy on food served in Parliament canteens for lawmakers, government staff and journalists is set to go with a broad consensus emerging on the issue at the Business Advisory Committee of the Lok Sabha chaired by Speaker Om Birla on Thursday.

Sources said floor leaders from various political parties suggested during the weekly meeting of the House that the subsidised food served in the Parliament canteens should be sold at market price. Speaker Birla too agreed and the responsibility of how to go about ending the subsidy formally will now be on him. He is likely to get a sense of the House before going ahead with the move.

The subsidy of around Rs. 17 crore annually on the lunch and snacks served in canteens has drawn criticism from various quarters from time to time. Each time the issue is raised, Parliament has increased the prices to cool the tempers. The decision taken on Thursday comes at a time when the country is reeling under rocketing onion prices. MPs were likely to get slammed for enjoying subsidised food while people suffer high prices.

“We never eat in Parliament canteen but get all the flak for the low cost of food served there. Why should we face the rebuke unnecessarily? It should end,” an opposition MP told ET. A Shiv Sena MP said he had never eaten in any of the Parliament canteens and was not aware of the development.

But the cheap prices should go, he said. Another MP said since BAC represents the whole House, hence the Speaker should not delay the matter further. The Rajya Sabha has not discussed this issue though some members said they endorsed the view. As per the norm, the Speaker takes a call on administrative issues in Parliament House.

All Parliament canteens are run by the Railways but the salary of the government employees working there is borne by Parliament.

These people are likely to be sent back to their parent cadre. It is not clear if the canteens will be run on contracts in future. A call to the issue will be taken later. Parliament has already privatised maintenance of cleanliness in the complex and a private company handles it.

Though MPs are hardly seen in the canteens, they do order food in the Central Hall. Ministers and their staff also order food from the canteen. The biggest consumer of the food in these canteens is the Parliament staff.

Some are of the view that they will end up paying more. However, the counter-argument by some MPs is that one will only be required to pay what the common person pays anywhere for his or her food.
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