The high cost of oversight

With NA standing committees now set up, panel heads and members will begin cashing in perks worth Rs31m a year


Waqas Ahmed March 07, 2019
National Assembly of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: With National Assembly standing committees now set up, committee chairpersons and members will soon start cashing in their perks and privileges and cost the national treasury Rs31 million a year.

The chairpersons alone will receive monthly privileges worth more than Rs72,000 month in addition to the salary they receive and perks they enjoy as members of the National Assembly.

Under clause 13-A of the bill pertaining to benefits and allowances of standing committee heads and members, panel chairpersons will receive a 1,300cc car with a driver and 360 litres of petrol, and an office with a Grade 17 private secretary, a Grade 15 steno typist and naib qasid for office affairs.

Every month, chairpersons will also receive Rs10,000 to manage their office expenses in addition to a Rs8,000 relaxation for the same. They will also receive Rs10,000 in total for home telephone and other telephone expenses along with a Rs3,000 special travelling allowance and Rs1,750 temporary travel allowance to participate in standing committee meetings. All of this is in addition to an honorarium of Rs12,700 the chairpersons will receive every month.

Chairpersons will be allowed to use the car they receive to travel all over Pakistan. Any additional petrol, however, will have to be paid for by the chairpersons themselves.

Standing committee members will only receive a Rs3,000 allowance to attend panel meetings in addition to the salary and benefits for being National Assembly members. The perks members of the National Assembly receive include 22 business class tickets and special train travel privileges.

After a six-month delay and prolonged negotiations with the opposition, the government finally set up 36 National Assembly standing committees earlier this month. Opposition leaders will head 19 of these committees while treasury lawmakers will chair the remaining 17.

Standing committees are crucial in providing oversight and monitoring the working of government ministries. According to the National Assembly website, they are empowered to examine the expenditures, administration, delegated legislations, public petitions and policies of the ministry they are concerned with.

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