PESHAWAR: The treasury and opposition benches in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly here on Tuesday reached an understanding to review perks and privileges of cabinet members and lawmakers and set up two committees to finalise recommendations within a fortnight to entitle the people’s representatives to have better facilities.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle termed their current monetary benefits and other allied facilities insufficient and asked the government to make their ‘package’ attractive.
After hearing the members’ grievances, Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, who chaired the sitting, ordered the formation of a committee of the house to review their perks and privileges and make recommendations.
He also directed the chief minister to form a ministerial level committee to revisit monetary package of the cabinet members.
House passes Rs109bn supplementary budget after approval of 55 demands for grant
Mr Ghani directed both committees to present recommendations within a fortnight and submit reports to the house.
The assembly also passed over Rs109.11 billion supplementary budget for the year 2020-21 after 55 demands for grant were approved. Opposition members withdrew their cut motions after holding a brief discussion on demands for grant.
Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) MPA Inayatullah Khan while speaking on his cut motion regarding demand for grant for the general administration decried facilities for the ministers.
He said the conditions of the ministers’ offices were very miserable compared to those of the administrative secretaries and other officials in the civil secretariat.
“Ministers don’t have dedicated offices and honour boards in their offices have not been provided,” he lamented.
Minister for parliamentary affairs Akbar Ayub Khan endorsed the remarks of the opposition members and said politicians always faced allegations.
He said the ministers didn’t have dedicated official houses.
The minister said vehicles and essential household items provided to ministers at their official residences had ‘disappeared’ after the completion after their tenure.
“Mr Speaker, vehicle and other household items were missing from my official residence when I was re-allotted the same house after joining the cabinet in 2018,” he said.
Mr Akbar said if the general administration didn’t improve the condition of the official residences of the cabinet members, the communication and works department would be entrusted the job.
He sought the chair’s ruling for providing dedicated houses to the cabinet’s members and said several ministers, advisers and special assistants had been living in the MPA hostel.
Food minister Mohammad Atif Khan seconded his cabinet colleagues and said the post of the minister was a constitutional position and the cabinet members should have dedicated houses.
He said previously, a minister got only Rs18,000 salary a month and the chief minister Rs21,000.
The minister said the salary package of the elected representatives required rationalisation and requested the speaker to constitute a committee to review the package of the lawmakers and cabinet members.
Responding to the cut motions, finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said the salary package of the government employees needed simplification.
He said currently, 106 different types of allowances were paid to employees and the government would simplify their salary structure.
“We need simple salary structure for the employees,” he said.
The minister claimed that matters between the federal government and KP related to payment on account of net hydel profit had been resolved and the former would release all outstanding dues valuing Rs36 billion to the province within two months.
He said the finance division issued a summary on Monday in that respect and that the issue of the NHP was being settled for good.
The minister also assured the opposition that over Rs3 billion liabilities of different departments would be cleared with the beginning of the new financial year.
Earlier, general manager of the Sui northern Gas Company was summoned to the assembly secretariat on the directive of Speaker Mushtaq Ghani to brief members about the current gas shortage in the province.
On a point of order, Pakistan Peoples Party member Amjad Afridi raised the issue of the loadshedding of natural gas in the province and said the federal government was violating the court’s decision by reducing gas supply to the province.
He said KP produced up to 500 mmscfdper day but received 250-300 mmscfdper day.
MMP MPA Ahmad Bittani pointed out a 14-year-old girl was abducted from Dera Ismail Khan three days ago but the police had yet to find her whereabouts.
He said the girl’s family had migrated from Tank to Dera Ismail Khan.
Speaker Ghani directed the relevant minister to ask the police to investigate the case and produce the report immediately.
Women MPAs from the treasury and opposition benches staged a walkout from the house to protest the remarks of Awami National Party member Nisar Mohmand that those elected on reserved seats were un-elected and they shouldn’t be appointed heads of the DDACs.
The women lawmakers said they were very much elected, so they shouldn’t be called un-elected or members of reserved seats.
The sitting was adjourned for an indefinite period.
Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2021