ISLAMABAD: As the bill to increase the salaries and privileges of parliamentarians was presented in the Upper House of the Parliament, ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) opposed the bill. Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani had initiated voting on the request which got 16 votes in its favour.
29 senators voted against the motion, requests for jacking up salaries of senators and national assembly members both have been rejected. The bill demanded the salaries of Senate chairman, deputy chairman and NA speaker and deputy speaker equivalent to judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The draft bill seeks an increase in the salaries of Senate chairman and National Assembly speaker from Rs225,000 to Rs879,000 to match the salaries of Supreme Court judges and a rise in the remuneration of the Senate deputy chairman and National Assembly deputy speaker to match those of high court judges.
The bill also seeks to increase the salaries of members of the parliament from Rs150,000 to Rs300,000. It also calls for the travel allowance of parliamentarians to be increased to cover the cost of business class air tickets and AC class train tickets. The bill further seeks 25 business class tickets to be allocated for each lawmaker.
Speaking on the floor of the Upper House of the Parliament, PTI Senator Faisal Javed while opposing the bill said that the salaries could not be increased until the economic conditions are improved, adding that the lawmakers should live in the same salary. He said that the rulers in the past spent tax payers money on their luxuries but Prime Minister Imran Khan didn’t take a pay raise and decreased the expenses of his office. The PTI senator went on to say that salaries of lawmakers should not be increased unless income of the workers and the peasants increased.
Speaking on the occasion, Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif said that the parliamentarians who do not wish to take the extra money, don’t have to so, adding that they are free to donate the money either back to the government or to Shaukat Khanum or Edhi. He said that there are rich people in the Senate who can even pay their salaries as well but there are people like him and raising salaries will not put that much burden on the treasury. PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also condemned the bill and said that we will think about pay raise once the economic condition of the country improved, adding that her party will oppose the bill in current situation. The country is facing severe crisis, inflation burden on the people and the economic situation is very bad, she said. The senator said that it was also true that the salaries of the lawmakers were the lowest in the region and it is difficult for some parliamentarians to live in the current salary. NNI