One of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s key policies has been austerity, so it isn’t surprising that he isn’t pleased with MPAs taking a pay raise.
The premier took to Twitter on Thursday to express his disappointment at the Punjab Assembly’s decision to raise the salaries and perks of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, the Punjab cabinet and MPAs.
He said the increase could only be justified once prosperity returns to Pakistan.
I am extremely disappointed by decision of Punjab Assembly to raise pays & privileges of MPAs, Ministers & esp CM. Once prosperity returns to Pak such a move cld be justified, but now, when we do not have resources to provide basic amenities to all our people, this is untenable
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 14, 2019
On Wednesday, the Punjab Assembly passed a bill to increase the financial perks and privileges of public representatives in the province.
The bill was passed within five minutes with a complete consensus, raising salaries and fringe benefits of all assembly members. As per the bill, the monthly salary of members, including perks and allowances, was raised from Rs83,000 to Rs210,000.
MPAs’ basic salaries were raised from Rs18,000 to Rs80,000 per month, their daily allowance from Rs1,000 to Rs4,000 per month and house rent from Rs29,000 to Rs50,000 per month.
The bill has fixed the utility allowance at Rs20,000 per month (it was previously Rs6,000) and raised hospitality allowance to Rs20,000 from Rs10,000. The Punjab chief minister will now be receiving a monthly package of over Rs350,000.
Punjab is controlled by the PTI so the majority of lawmakers in the assembly are from the premier’s party.
Fawad Chaudhry backtracks
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry backtracked on his earlier praise for the decision in a Tweet on Thursday and said it “seems the Punjab government and CM House are in the dark about the PM and the federal government’s austerity policies otherwise such sham exercise of awarding huge benefits to themselves would not have happened.”
Until Wednesday, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry thought Punjab MPAs raising their salaries was a good idea. He had said MPAs were paid very little and if their salaries were not raised, the middle-class would not contest elections.
Newly appointed Punjab Information Minister Samsam Bukhari distanced himself from the assembly’s decision and said he was one of the members who opposed the bill’s passing.
Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari said he doesn’t see anything wrong with raising MPAs’ salaries. How can we manage on lower salaries when inflation is rising, he asked.
The dollar price has also risen, he said, adding that there is nothing wrong with raising salaries.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar says that before signing the bill, he will get PM Khan’s approval. Bills that are approved by the assembly have to get the governor’s approval. If he refuses to approve it, the bill will go back to the assembly. If it is passed again, the governor has to sign it.