PM opposes Punjab MPs’ move to boost pay in time of austerity | Pakistan Today

PM opposes Punjab MPs’ move to boost pay in time of austerity

–‘Extremely disappointed’ Imran asks Punjab governor to hold summary recommending hefty increase in salaries, benefits for lawmakers, especially CM

–Suggests re-introducing bill in assembly and immediate review on life-time facilities to MPAs

–Punjab info minister says govt should have taken PM into confidence before passing bill

LAHORE: Irked by the Punjab Assembly’s decision to increase salaries and fringe benefits of MPAs, ministers and especially the chief minister, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday directed Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar not to approve the legislation forwarded to him by the Punjab government, Pakistan Today has learnt.

Taking to Twitter earlier in the day, the prime minister said: “I am extremely disappointed by decision of Punjab Assembly to raise pays and privileges of MPAs, ministers and especially the chief minister.”

PM Imran further said that such measures may have been justified once “prosperity returns to Pakistan … but now, when we do not have resources to provide basic amenities to all our people, this is untenable.”

On Wednesday, the Punjab Assembly unanimously passed — within five minutes – a bill raising the salaries and fringe benefits of all assembly members, including the chief minister, ministers, speaker and deputy speaker.

After the passage of the bill, the speaker’s salary has jumped from Rs37,000 to Rs200,000 per month and his deputy would now get Rs185,000 instead of Rs35,000 and so would be cabinet members and advisers. The members of Punjab Assembly (MPAs) are now entitled to Rs80,000 per month rather than Rs18,000 and their utility bills entitlement has gone up to Rs200,000 instead of earlier Rs120,000. This fiscal adjustment, naturally, had no one to oppose in the House and the bill was passed with a few minutes.

Interestingly, if the legislation is approved, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s salary will surpass the monthly official income of the prime minister.

According to the salary slip, PM Imran’s disposable income amounts to approximately Rs0.19m while his basic salary stands at Rs0.10m. He receives Rs21,456 as ad hoc relief allowance; the guest allowance is Rs50,000 while the ad hoc relief is Rs12,110. Rs4,595 in lieu of tax are deducted from his salary. On the other hand, Chief Minister Buzdar’s income will amount to Rs0.35m.

‘HOLD THE SUMMARY’:

According to sources, Prime Minister Imran has directed Governor Sarwar to hold the summary sent to him for approval.

The premier has directed to re-introduce the bill in the Punjab Assembly and immediate review on life-time facilities to the provincial lawmakers.

Sources said that PM Imran opposed the Punjab government’s decision for allotment of a life-time residence to the chief minister. The premier has suggested limiting the duration up to three months, sources added.

PM SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN INTO CONFIDENCE:

Explaining the Punjab government’s position, Punjab Information Minister Syed Sumsam Bukhari told reporters that the government should have taken the prime minister into confidence on the salary raise issue.

“The bill was passed with consensus of the House. It will now be sent to the Punjab governor for approval. However, if the governor returns the legislation as per the PM’s directive, it will be forwarded to the standing committee concerned for further deliberation,” he said.

Earlier, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry also commented on the situation via Twitter and said that its seems that the Punjab government is unaware of the prime minister and the government’s austerity policies, “otherwise such sham exercises of awarding huge benefits to themselves would not have happened.”

The information minister’s statement, however, was in direct contrast with his earlier views on the subject. Prior to the prime minister expressing his disappointment, Chaudhry had appeared to favour the pay raise.

“I think their [Punjab lawmakers] salaries were really low,” he said. “It was Rs80,000, which they’ve now raised to Rs150,000. If you don’t do this then the middle class will never be able to contest elections.”

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari also criticised the action taken by Punjab government.

“Punjab legislature directly contravenes Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s policy of austerity and cost-cutting. [This is ] shameful behavior in these financially critical times!”



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