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Senate Rejects Bills to Increase Parliamentarians’ Salaries

by Newsweek Pakistan

Upper House passes Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill, 2020

The Senate of Pakistan on Monday rejected multiple motions to introduce bills desiring an increase in the salaries of lawmakers, with senators aligned with the incumbent government saying it went against the austerity drive launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Opposing the bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan Swati said the government is currently striving to achieve economic stability in the country and cannot afford exorbitant increases in salaries. However, he added, the bill should be introduced in the National Assembly, as it is a money bill.

Senator Faisal Javed, also of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, meanwhile said that the government’s senators would oppose the bill because it went against the austerity campaign that had been launched due to the persistent economic crises facing the country. He said the prime minister had personally set an example of austerity by reducing the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office and lowering the amount of money spent on foreign trips.

Opposition Leader Raja Zafarul Haq, of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), said his party would not ask for any increase in salaries until the economic conditions of the common man had improved. Similarly, the Parliamentary Leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party in the Senate, Sherry Rehman, said it was not appropriate to seek salary increases at this critical juncture. “Public money needs to be spent on public relief right now,” she posted on Twitter last week.

Despite a majority of senators opposing the bill, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s senator, Barrister Saif, supported it.

Under the proposed bill, the existing salaries of the Senate chairman and the National Assembly speaker would be increased from Rs. 250,000 per month to Rs. 870,000, a 248 percent increase. Similarly, the salaries of the Senate deputy chairman and the NA deputy speaker would be increased from Rs. 185,000 to Rs. 829,000, a 348 percent boost. Per the bill, the salaries of senators and MNAs would be increased 100 percent from Rs. 150,000 to Rs. 300,000.

Also on Monday, the House passed three resolutions. The first recommended the government take immediate steps to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as Influenza Types A, B and C and Diphtheria during winter in Islamabad. The second has directed the government to formulate a comprehensive policy to address the issues of inflation and unemployment in the country. The third has recommended keeping the customs gateway at Chaman border open 24 hours—similar to the customs gateway at Torkham border—to increase trade with Afghanistan and facilitate the movement of people.

During Monday’s proceedings, the Senate also passed the Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill, 2020, which aims to facilitate the speedy transfer of movable and immovable property from the deceased to their legal heirs. Under the law—which has already been approved by the National Assembly—Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates would be issued within 15 days of an application being filed by legal heirs.

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