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February 2, 2020

Senate includes draft bill of hefty raise of MPs salaries in tomorrow’s agenda

February 2, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Amid repeated calls for austerity by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Senate of Pakistan has included three draft bills in its agenda for the Monday’s private members day, seeking massive increase in salaries, perks and privileges of the Senate chairman, deputy chairman and NA Speaker and his deputy besides members of Parliament.

However, the draft bills are expected to face opposition not only from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) but also from some opposition parties, as PPP parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman has already announced her party would not support any such move.

“I don’t think, as I know Prime Minister Imran Khan, he will not support such bills, especially at a time when, he is again and again calling for steps to provide relief to the financially squeezed segments of the society,” said PTI Senator Syed Shibli Faraz, who is Leader of the House in the Senate, when this correspondent sought his comment on the matter.

He pointed out that Prime Minister Imran Khan himself was leading by example the government’s austerity drive and in such a scenario, upward revision of salaries and other benefits would be like chewing ‘naan’ before a starving person.

Asked about fate of the draft bills, once moved in the House and referred to the committees for deliberations and report, he said that it would be hard to predict despite his party and PPP reportedly opposing these bills, as simply majority would be needed to ensure passage of these bills from the House. “Our allied partners are not bound by PTI; they may take position according to their own accord on that particular day,” he said in reply to another question about the coalition partners position. The draft Salaries and Allowances Amendment Bill, 2020, seeks to increase the Senate chairman and National Assembly Speaker’s salary from existing Rs225,000 to Rs879,000. Separately, another bill calls for an increase in the salaries of the Senate deputy chairman and National Assembly deputy speaker. The third one seeks to increase the salaries of members of the Parliament from Rs150,000 to Rs300,000. The draft bill also calls for the travel allowance of parliamentarians to be increased to cover the cost of business class air tickets and AC class railway tickets. Moreover, it envisages for 25 business class tickets to be allocated for each lawmaker and for the option of these tickets being used by members’ spouses and children to travel within the country to be available. As per orders of the day, the bills carry names of PTI Chief Whip Sajjad Hussain Turi, PML-N’s Sardar Yaqoob Nasir and others include Dilawar Khan, Dr Ashuk Kumar and Shamim Afridi. The titles of the bills are: a bill further to amend the Chairman and Speaker (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) Act, 1975 [The Chairman and Speaker (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2020], a bill further to amend the Deputy Chairman and Deputy Speaker (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) Act, 1975 [The Deputy Chairman and Deputy Speaker (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2020] and bill further to amend the Deputy Chairman and Deputy Speaker (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) Act, 1975 [The Deputy Chairman and Deputy Speaker (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2020]. Special Assistant to PM on Information Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan Saturday said that while the PTI was not in majority in the Senate, it would do everything in its power to make sure no injustice was done towards the public. Regarding PTI’s chief whip Turi expected to tabling the bill, when the Senate resumes Monday, she contended that the party was united towards implementing the prime minister’s austerity drive.