KARACHI: Embroiled in controversy over draft legislation aimed at enhancing the perks available to current and former chairmen, deputy chairmen and members of the upper house of parliament, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has offered to resign and present himself for accountability, Dawn.com reported.
Mr Sanjrani claimed he had never demanded even a penny’s raise in his salary, nor did he claim any travel allowance or daily allowance during his time as Senate chairman.
“I am ready for my accountability, an audit should be ordered and if it proves any misconduct or wrongdoing, I will step down from my position,” he told Nadir Guramani of DawnNews in an interview scheduled to be broadcast over Eidul Azha.
Explaining the reasons for introducing the legislation, he noted that there were senators who relied solely on their salaries, and suggested that if the country was prosperous, then public representatives should receive better privileges.
Senate chairman says better perks for public office holders would keep them away from ‘wrongdoings’
This, he said, would prevent them from indulging in “wrongdoings”.
He also suggested, ostensibly in jest, that the Senate chairman should be entitled to “ten planes instead of one” if Pakistan achieves stability and manages to address the people’s issues.
Criticism by parliament
The Senate passed the three contentious bills — moved by around 40 senators — earlier this month, but almost immediately came under fire for proposing such a move at a time when the economy is struggling.
The draft law envisioned the provision of a full security detail of at least ten personnel to former chairmen, provision of their family members as well as domestic staff travel sponsored by the government. Mr Sajrani claimed that the bill was meant to address audit issues and would not be a burden on the national exchequer.
The clarification, however, failed to convince members of parliament, with his Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwala criticising the bill.
Separately, PPP leader and cabinet minister Shazia Marri rejected the proposed bill in a statement, distancing her party from the ‘controversial legislation’. She also said that such a move was not acceptable amid serious economic challenges.
Noor Alam Khan, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly, has also publicly opposed the bill.
The old Act titled The Chairman (Salaries, Allowances, and Privileges) Act 1975 has been rectified from time to time as per the decisions of Senate committees. According to this law, the office expenses of the chairman observed an increase from Rs6,000 per month to Rs50,000. Similarly, the daily allowance has been increased from Rs1,750 to Rs10,000. The travel allowance was initially just Rs75 which has been raised to Rs5,000 over the years.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2023