ISLAMABAD: A crucial cabinet huddle on Wednesday approved a more than 100% increase in the salary of federal lawmakers, raising eyebrows at a time when the government is facing political challenges both at home and abroad.
The summary approved by the cabinet proposed raising the basic salary of MNAs and senators from Rs44,630 to Rs150,000, of federal ministers from Rs114,897 to Rs200,000, ministers of state from Rs106,281 to Rs180,000, National Assembly speaker and Senate chairman from Rs119,008 to Rs205,000, and the salary of Senate deputy chairman and NA deputy speaker from Rs110,085 to Rs185,000.
Bank CEOs earn 367 times more than average Pakistani
“It has been felt that basic pay of these office-holders has fallen behind their counterparts… There is, therefore, a need to make appropriate changes in the pay of public office-holders to address these deficiencies,” read the summary moved by the Finance Division led by Finance Secretary Waqar Masood Khan.
Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said the revision of basic pays of parliamentarians and public office-holders had been pending for over a decade. The revised salaries, she said, were inclusive of the ad hoc reliefs of 2010 and 2016.
“It is very difficult to meet home expenses with a monthly salary of only Rs44,000,” Marriyum said, adding that FBR and ECP figures depicted that most of members of parliament belonged to the middle class.
Political sources believe the cabinet’s move to approve such a hefty increase in parliamentarians’ pay – which comes at a time when the government is grappling with the Panamagate case at home and hostilities with India – is aimed at winning parliament’s support in the current scenario. “Giving parliamentarians a favour in order to win their favours — not a bad deal,” said a government functionary while requesting anonymity.
Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, deliberated a host of other pressing issues as well, including the appointment of the next army chief and heightened tensions with India.
Here are the highest paid govt departments
Sources in the Prime Minister House said Premier Nawaz reviewed steps taken by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government for the rescue and relocation of the vulnerable civilian population living along the Line of Control (LoC) to safer areas. Options to engage the Hurriyat leadership to highlight Kashmir issue at domestic and regional forums were discussed as well, the officials added.
A brief statement from the PM House said the cabinet “prayed for the martyrs of the naked Indian aggression along LoC … [and] for the departed souls of FC and police personnel who embraced martyrdom in recent terrorist attacks in Quetta and Peshawar.”
The insiders said notes were also exchanged on different legal options on the Panamagate case hearing in the Supreme Court on November 30.
The much hyped issue of the proposed extension in registered Afghan refugees’ stay in Pakistan beyond March 31, 2017 was not part of the cabinet agenda. Sources said that after informal consultations with his aides, the prime minister decided that the issue would be looked into in the coming days following the change of command of the security establishment.
“The security establishment has key role in security issues. Its input cannot be ignored. It was deemed necessary that the new army chief should be briefed about the issue and any decision should be taken after receiving the related input,” said a source close to the premier.
The Big Five and their top executives' total salary
A total of 16 agenda items were taken up by the cabinet on Wednesday, all of which were approved. They included amendment in Public Procurement Rules 2004, exemption of procurement of EPI vaccines from the applicability of Public Procurement Rules 2004, issuance of NOCs for Indian origin medicines, approval to start negotiations on bilateral agreement between Azerbaijan and Pakistan in disaster management, approval for negotiations on the draft agreement on defence cooperation between Kuwait and Pakistan, approval for signing of the draft MoU between South Africa and Pakistan on defence and industrial cooperation, approval for the signed agreement on military and technical cooperation between Pakistan and Kazakhstan, aigning of agreement for the establishment of joint commission between Pakistan and South Africa, approval for negotiations on a draft agreement between Pakistan and Belarus on crime prevention, approval for negotiations on a draft agreement on readmission between Pakistan and Belarus, MoU between Pakistan’s NAB and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for strengthening cooperation in preventing and combating corruption, approval for signing of MoU between Pakistan and Maldives on health cooperation, ex-post facto approval to sign MoU for cooperation in the field of supply of manpower between Pakistan and Maldives, and confirmation of the decisions taken by ECC in its previous meetings.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2016.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ