ISLAMABAD: The federal government has approved a staggering increase of up to 146 per cent in the salary of members of parliament.
Briefing reporters about decisions taken by the federal cabinet on Wednesday, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said members of the National Assembly and the Senate had only had two meagre pay rises, in the form of ad hoc relief, in the last 14 years.
She said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had constituted a five-member ministerial committee to review rules of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA). The cabinet had also decided to repatriate Afghan refugees by December 2017, besides ratifying nine agreements already signed with six countries, she added.
According to the minister, the salary of members of the National Assembly and the Senate has been raised from Rs60,996 to Rs150,000 — a rise of 145.9 per cent. The cabinet has also approved a 26 per cent rise in the salary of the National Assembly speaker and the Senate chairman (from Rs162,659 to Rs205,000) and a 23 per cent rise in the salary of the deputy speaker and deputy chairman of the two houses of the parliament (from Rs150,454 to Rs185,000).
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The salary of federal ministers has been raised from Rs126,387 to Rs200,000 (58 per cent), and the salary of state ministers from Rs116,909 to Rs180,000 (54 per cent). The rises will be considered to be in effect from October 1.
Ms Aurangzeb said the matter of salary rises had been pending for a long time. Considering the inflation in the last decade, she said, it had become difficult for MPs to manage household expenditures with a monthly salary of Rs44,000.
Responding to a question, she dispelled the impression that parliament comprised of billionaires. She said details of the MPs’ assets were available with the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Federal Board of Revenue, which showed that most of them were from the middle class. She added that members of provincial assemblies received much more salaries than members of the National Assembly and Senate.
The committee to review PPRA rules will be headed by Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq and comprise Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Law Minister Zahid Hamid, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch and the federal finance secretary.
Ms Aurangzeb said the committee had been tasked with suggesting amendments to the rules of the PPRA, an autonomous body responsible for monitoring and prescribing regulations and procedures for public procurement by the federal government-owned public sector organisations.
This was being done to improve governance, management, transparency, accountability and quality of public procurement of goods, works and services, she said.
The committee is required to finalise its recommendations in a month.
Later in the afternoon, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar visited the two houses of the parliament briefly and received accolades for the decision to raise the MPs’ salaries.
Speaking in the Senate, the minister said he had fulfilled the commitments about salary revisions he had made in the National Assembly during the budget session.
According to the finance minister, the total financial impact of the decision on the national economy would be Rs450 million.
The information minister said that the cabinet had discussed the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees and decided that they would have to leave Pakistan by Dec 2017. She claimed that the decision had been taken after taking all political parties on board. However, without elaborating, she said the Afghan refugees had been divided into various categories and the procedure for their repatriation would be discussed at the next cabinet meeting.
The cabinet gave approval to the nine agreements signed with Azerbaijan, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Belarus, the Maldives and Malaysia in the fields of disaster management, defence, information technology, combating corruption and exchange and training of medical practitioners.
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2016