MPs’ perks Bill ignites friction

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Planning Minister Asad Umar in a tweet Sunday hoped news reports about draft bills seeking a massive increase in salaries and perks of members of parliament are not true.
He said it is outright inappropriate for public representatives to increase their perks and privileges in this situation. If the cash-starved kitty could spare funds amid the financial crunch, they ought to be spent to reduce the burden on the financially squeezed segments of society, Asad Umar suggested.
As lawmakers from both opposition and the ruling party weighed in on the proposed increase in lawmakers’ salaries, Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi PTI’s chief whip in the Senate said that the bill would be scrapped if a consensus could not be reached.
Turi, who was elected as an independent candidate and was appointed the ruling party’s chief whip in the Senate last year, was supposed to table the bill in the Senate tomorrow.
Speaking to media, Turi said that those opposing the move were simply playing the “numbers game”.
“There is a need to increase the salaries,” said Turi, while claiming that almost 85 per cent of the 104 members had agreed in principle to support the bill.
He added that they would consult various political parties regarding the bill and if a consensus could not be reached, the proposed bill would be scrapped.
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, however, termed the proposal “unreasonable”, adding that the country had “not come out of the economic crisis yet”.
The NA speaker added that a raise in lawmakers’ salaries at this point would put an unnecessary burden on the treasury. “Any suggestion to increase lawmakers’ should only be made once the treasury is able to withstand the additional burden.”
Earlier, leaders from both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and opposition party, PPP, had voiced their opposition to the bill, which seeks a two-fold increase in the salaries and other perks of parliamentarians.