DailyPost 2184

Per unit cost is a well-known formula to understand the actual cost of a product or service at the point of commissioning. The profit formula can be added based on the nature of further cost on supply chain, intermediaries, support systems and actual percentage of profit different stakeholders are desirous of. In the case of hiring by the companies they talk in terms of cost to the company, which is way beyond salary, which itself is broken down into a variety of well thought out parts. Fast forward and think of the same formula for our elected representatives and the bureaucrats, the public money needs to be more scrupulously accounted for.

One of the first tenets of financial discipline taught to new bureaucrats for ages has been to use government money in the same manner as a person of normal common sense would use his money. Not getting into how far we are from that financial dictum and how elected representatives money increases manifold once they get elected, there is a need to know the per unit cost, to get some idea of the fast-degrading scenario. This means what has been the cost for the exchequer for that group of elected representatives, the grouping should be made taking all elements of expenditure into account.

What is the cost of maintaining the cost of a corporator in Bangalore or of a Lok Sabha MP in Delhi? The freebies and NPAs debate can continue till the time cows come home, this has to be sorted out immediately in the interest of the nation. Each Lok Sabha MP’s unit cost for example will incorporate from the recurring cost / rent of the Lutyens Delhi villa at market rates, the cost of the Lok Sabha session divided between them, the endless perks, cost involved in being Chairman / members of committee of the Lok Sabha and other wise, to the perk of having a say in Central School admission. Pensions for every completed term if I am right. Every perk has a value attached even if its notional, because money is spent for that purpose from government head of account. If there are any security details / personnel with them and day to day movement of government / security officials with them and for their visit or purpose. Also, cost of personal staff attached to them, if any. If would a great sight to see an elected representative moving alone.

It will also include value of all the officials time, which are carved out only for their purpose. Think of the ministers of different shades and colour and also the number and nature of ministries they control. Nobody moves without a convoy. Every single perk they carry, both the legal privileges and the once they forcibly apportion has a price. By the time you reach to the important ministers, and the Chief Ministers everything seem to be one house. Entering into the official accommodation might cost scores of lakhs and at time crores, it has to be made ready to the boss’s taste and that of the family. For the central cabinet the whole of Lutyen’s Delhi is there to cater to them. The total quantum of security deployment for these ministers and in addition temporary and adhoc deployments of their purpose can run beyond any imaginable amount. How much of it is truly official we will leave for another day, if we were to find cost of each of these for every single elected representatives, it will do yeomen service to democratic transparency. Does return on investment not apply democratic expenditure? The return has to accrue to the people. Even philanthropic organisations don’t operate in this manner and then philanthropy for whom? They also should be happy with the same ration as being provided to India’s 80 crore population.

Sanjay Sahay

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