PESHAWAR: In a notification issued on July 9, but not yet made public, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has increased the salaries of advisers and special assistants by almost 94%, from Rs18,000 per month to Rs35,000. In addition to new benefits such as an annual Rs500,000 home furnishing allowance, existing benefits have also been bumped up.
The K-P administration department had initially issued a notification announcing the salaries for all MPAs on June 20, 2013. In a partial revision, the employment terms for advisers and special assistants to the chief minister (CM) were modified, effective July 2014. The provincial cabinet approved the increase on June 6, 2014 in a meeting held under the chair of CM Pervez Khattak.
After an increment in salaries for K-P ministers last month, former minister for information Shah Farman had stated that the hike is an essential step to curb corruption in the province.
Documents available with The Express Tribune reveal that 10 MPAs, including four advisers and six special assistants, will see a substantial increase in their salaries and incentives. It is also mentioned that their salary will now increase every year like other government employees.
According to the new breakdown, Rs35,000 will be paid as a basic salary – almost twice as much as the previous Rs18,000.
Their landlines will be free, while they will be allotted Rs5,000 for their mobile phone usage in addition to a Rs15,000 sumptuary allowance, which was previously Rs6,000. Additionally, an extra daily allowance of Rs1,000 will also be handed out to the 10 MPAs.
The advisers and special assistants will be allowed to spend Rs500,000 on furnishing their residence through the year – a new perk. Rs70,000 will be provided as a house subsidy and another Rs70,000 for house requisition per month – a substantial increase from the previous Rs40,000 given for all household rent and maintenance. Utility bills will also be paid in full by the government.
Travel and health
The official vehicles of the MPAs will be maintained by the government and 600 litres of fuel per month will be provided.
The notification adds that during official tours inside and outside the country, these advisers and special assistants will be treated as first grade officers. Accommodation during travel for the 10 MPAs will be at the government’s expense in circuit houses and other guesthouses.
Medical facilities will be provided to them under predetermined government rules, while a Rs500,000 compensation has been introduced in case of an air accident.
Over and above all incentives and facilities, Rs300,000 discretionary grants will be awarded annually by the government to the lawmakers.
The documents add that these cabinet members are entitled to a month’s leave per annum with all benefits; this leave can be extended to three months.
“The chief minister’s order hurts the spirit of the 18th Amendment,” Awami National Party’s parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak told The Express Tribune. “It requires that a cabinet must not exceed 11% of the total strength of the assembly, while the current number is near 25%.”
In case of the K-P government, Babak explained, the cabinet should not exceed 15 members, including the CM. This limitation is intended to reduce the burden of an army of ministers on the exchequer, he added.
“The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government has increased the cabinet size to 34 members, which has more than doubled the burden on our treasury,” said the ANP leader.
The advisers who will enjoy the incentives are Akbar Ayub Khan of Communication & Works, Shakeel Ahmad of Population Welfare, Amjid Khan Afridi of Sports, Culture, Tourism & Museums, and Malik Qasim Khan Khattak of Prisons.
Meanwhile, the special assistants include Abdul Munim of Industries, Commerce & Labour, Mohammad Ishtiaq of Environment, Muhibullah Khan of Livestock, Soran Singh of Minority Affairs, Arif Yousaf of Law, and Meher Taj Roghani of Social Welfare.
Despite repeated attempts, none of the advisers or special assistants could be reached for comments.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014.