Provincial lawmakers’ pay rise to cost millions

June 02, 2014 - 12:00:50 am

PESHAWAR: An impending increase in salaries, allowances and privileges of the members of provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will put Rs100m extra burden on the low-income Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The relevant officials have said that the government is likely to table the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Salaries and Allowances of Members) Act (Amendment) Bill during the current session of the assembly.

The government has approved the house’s special committee’s report recommending increase in the salaries and allowances of the speaker, deputy speaker and MPAs.

The report of the seven-member committee comprising the treasury and opposition members was tabled in the house in March. It had secured unanimous approval.

The report said salaries of the provincial ministers, advisers, special assistants and parliamentary secretaries were insufficient and therefore, the government should increase them.

Justifying the proposed pay raise, the committee observed in the report that majority of the MPAs belonged to the middle class and therefore, they could not survive with the existing salaries due to the skyrocketing inflation.

The financial cost of the existing parliamentary democratic system is on the rose with the provincial government spending a huge amount of money on the salaries, allowances, privileges and other facilities of MPAs though majority of the population is living below the poverty line.

The government depends on federal receipts and foreign donors for social development schemes.

An official in the know said the daily expenditure of an assembly sitting was around Rs800,000, excluding the cost of utility services, security, entertainment and other facilities.

“The proposed raise in salaries, allowances and privileges of lawmakers will cost the government an additional Rs100 million per annum,” he said.

The official said the financial cost of the democratic dispensation was increasing day by day but the performance of the members of the provincial assembly was a letdown.

“The assembly met for 105 days in the first parliamentary year though the actual working days are 72. On average, the assembly members met for two hours in a working day to dispose of parliamentary business,” he said.

He said the scenario was the worst in the parliamentary history of the province.

They said members of the ruling coalition led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf didn’t take interest in the house business with majority of MPAs, ministers and parliamentary secretaries remaining absent from the session frequently.