Senate rejects bill seeking raise in lawmakers’ salaries
February 3, 2020 10:51 PM
The Senate on Monday rejected a bill proposing an increase in the salaries of lawmakers after an intense debate on whether parliamentarians should give themselves a raise in the current economic situation.
Only 16 votes were cast in favour of the Chairman and Speaker (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, while 29 senators voted against it.
The Senate session was held under the chairmanship of Sadiq Sanjrani. PTI’s Senator Faisal Javed Khan, PPP’s Sherry Rehman and PML-N’s Raja Zafarul Haq rejected the bill. However, MQM-P’s Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif voiced his support for the bill.
As the bill to increase the salaries and privileges of parliamentarians was presented in the Upper House of the Parliament, ruling PTI, PML-N and PPP opposed the bill.
Raja Zafarul Haq
Speaking on the floor of the House, Leader of the Opposition in Senate and PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq while opposing the bill said that the life of the common man has become worsen due to the price spiral. He said that at first the poor people should be looked after, adding that the lower and middle class people are facing the price spiral. He said that first the parliamentarians should talk about the nation and then talk about themselves. He said that until and unless the condition of common man is changed the PML-N will not make any such demand.
PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan said that the labourers are unable to eat bread in a respectable manner, adding that there is accommodation. He said that the national kitty is for the masses but the government is filling the national kitty for IMF. He said that the person who himself faces the economic crisis will thing about the masses, adding that there should be some principle regarding the salaries.
Faisal Javed Khan
PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan while opposing the bill said that the salaries could not be increased until the economic conditions are improved, adding that the lawmakers should live in the same salary.
He said that the rulers in the past spent tax payers money on their luxuries but Prime Minister Imran Khan didn’t take a pay raise and decreased the expenses of his office. The PTI senator went on to say that salaries of lawmakers should not be increased unless income of the workers and the peasants increased.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also condemned the bill and said that we will think about pay raise once the economic condition of the country improved, adding that her party will oppose the bill in current situation.
The country is facing severe crisis, inflation burden on the people and the economic situation is very bad, she said.
The senator said that it was also true that the salaries of the lawmakers were the lowest in the region and it is difficult for some parliamentarians to live in the current salary.
Sherry said that considering Pakistan’s current economic situation, it would be tone deaf for the country’s lawmakers to take a pay raise.
“Keeping aside whether this bill is a money bill or not, the role of parliament is to fight for the people. The PPP has always strived in the interests of the most downtrodden segment of society.”
Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan Senator Sirajul Haq while opposing the bill said that the Chairman Senate is happy today but the salary will not be increased. He said that prime minister has also announced that he is unable to meet the expenses in current salary, adding that the person who is receiving Rs 17,000 how he will meet his expenses.
Sirja said that we do politics for securing the blessings of Almighty Allah. He said that when he was the finance minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa he had given a formula that 20 percent salary of grade 1 employee should be increased and one percent increase in salary of the Grade 22 office should be made. He said that the revolution will come when prime minister will be model for masses.
Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan maintained that those lawmakers who do not wish to take the extra money, don’t have to so. “They are free to donate the money either back to the government or to a suitable charity as they see fit,” he added.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Senator Usman Khan Kakar also supported the bill and said that “some senators wanted a raise but were playing politics”.
Kakar said that the salary of parliamentarians is “less than that of a grade-17 officer”. He also criticised Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Senator Azam Swati for opposing the bill and said: “People like Azam Swati can afford the expenses of the entire parliament.”
Two more bills rejected
Further, two other bills including the Deputy Chairman and Deputy Speaker (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Members of Parliament (Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 were rejected through a voice vote.
The Chairman and Speaker (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill 2020 proposed an increase in the salaries of Senate chairman and National Assembly speaker from Rs225,000 to Rs879,000 to match the salaries of Supreme Court judges and a rise in the remuneration of the Senate deputy chairman and National Assembly deputy speaker to match those of high court judges.
Furthermore, a second bill, sought to increase the salaries of parliament members from Rs150,000 to Rs300,000. It also called for the travel allowance of parliamentarians to be increased to cover the cost of business class air tickets and AC class train tickets.
The draft bill also demanded 25 business class tickets to be allocated for each lawmaker and for the option of these tickets being used by the members’ spouses and children to travel within the country to be available.