Pay raise for MPAs indispensable, Punjab CM tells PM


–Buzdar tells Imran he has given up his lifelong perks, salary raise as PM urges austerity

–Complains to PM about interference by some PTI leaders in various administrative affairs


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday told Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar that the provincial government should review the increase in salaries of lawmakers while keeping in mind the austerity drive of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, as the latter insisted on a pay raise for the lawmakers.

The directive was given in a one-on-one meeting between the two at Prime Minister’s Office. PM Imran had summoned Buzdar to discuss the Punjab Public Representatives’ Laws (Amendment) Bill 2019 that was passed by the provincial assembly last Tuesday.

In Monday’s meeting, Imran reiterated his disapproval of the bill.

According to sources, Buzdar told the prime minister that he had relinquished the lifelong perks and raise in salary proposed in a provincial bill but a raise in the provincial assembly lawmakers’ salaries was necessary. However, he assured the PM that the decision would be reviewed.

The bill proposed by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Ghazanfar Abbas and approved with one voice by both the treasury and opposition benches proposed phenomenal raise in the lawmakers’ salaries and other perks.

The prime minister, while expressing extreme disappointment over the move, had asked the Punjab governor not to sign the bill. In his Twitter message, Imran Khan had said, “Measures like these would be justified if the country sees development.”

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 had been approved, Buzdar’s salary would have surpassed 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 would have amounted to Rs0.35m.

According to sources, Prime Minister Imran directed his party leaders 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.

During Monday’s meeting, the Punjab chief minister also reportedly complained about interference by some PTI leaders in various administrative affairs, saying the provincial government was facing problems due to such interruptions.

The PM advised the CM to handle the affairs with consultation and ensure implementation of the PTI manifesto while keeping all administrative affairs in his own hands. The meeting also discussed performance of the provincial cabinet.

They also reviewed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) demands pertaining to medical treatment of former premier Nawaz Sharif, who is currently incarcerated at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail.

The CM said the provincial government is in continuous contact with the Sharif family and the jail administration. “We have offered all possible support for better medical treatment of the former prime minister,” the CM told the premier.