Senate turns down bill proposing increase in legislators’ salaries
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of the parliament on Monday rejected a bill proposing an increase in the salaries of lawmakers after an intense debate on whether parliamentarians should give themselves a raise in the current economic situation.
Only 16 votes were cast in favour of the bill, while 29 senators voted against it. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the PML-N opposed the bill, citing the country’s weak economy, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) declared their support.
The bill proposed 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.
Furthermore, it sought to increase the salaries of parliament members from Rs150,000 to Rs300,000. It also called for the travel allowance of parliamentarians to be increased to cover the cost of business class air tickets and AC class train tickets.
During the debate in Monday’s Senate sitting, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said that considering Pakistan’s current economic situation, it would be tone deaf for the country’s lawmakers to take a pay raise.
“This is a very important matter. However, the PPP will reject this bill,” Sherry Rehman had said.
“Keeping aside whether this bill is a money bill or not, the role of parliament is to fight for the people. The PPP has always strived in the interests of the most downtrodden segment of society.”
Recognising the fact that the salaries of some lawmakers in Pakistan were among the lowest in the region, Sherry stated: “We understand that there are certain members of the Senate who do not have another source of income and find it difficult to make ends meet. However, this matter should be picked up at another time.”
However, Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif of the MQM-P maintained that those lawmakers who do not wish to take the extra money, don’t have to so.
“They are free to donate the money either back to the government or to a suitable charity as they see fit,” he added.
PkMAP Senator Usman Khan Kakar also supported the bill and said that “some senators wanted a raise but were playing politics”.
Kakar said that the salary of parliamentarians is “less than that of a grade-17 officer”. He also criticised Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Senator Azam Swati for opposing the bill and said: “People like Azam Swati can afford the expenses of the entire parliament.”
PTI senators had opposed the bill, arguing that the country’s economic situation did not warrant an increase in the parliamentarians’ salaries. Senator Faisal Javed said that the “timing of the bill was not right” and added: “Salaries would be increased once the country’s economic situation improves.”