Increase in lawmakers’ pay

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The federal cabinet has approved up to 150 percent increase in salaries of the federal ministers, ministers of state, members of the National Assembly, its speaker and deputy speakers, members of Senate, its chairman and deputy chairman.Though the salary of the prime minister has also been enhanced, he would be drawing less salary than the NA speaker and Senate chairman. The cabinet approved revision of basic pay of some public officeholders and members of parliament after 13 years.State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, who attended the cabinet meeting in her incumbent capacity for the first time, termed the increase of salaries ‘insufficient’ compared with expenditure.She said the government employees are entitled to have an increase in their salaries annually. The members of the NA belonging to all shades of views had been pressing the government for enhancing their allowances and salaries for many months.Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar assured the NA in July last that he would review the salaries on the return of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from London where he was then undergoing cardiac treatment.The cabinet accordingly approved the increase on Wednesday and it would be applicable from October 1 retrospectively. The members would get the arrears with the next month’s salary. Interestingly, salaries of members of the Balochistan Assembly are still higher than what has been approved for the National Assembly and Senate. Some members of the cabinet proposed that the package of salaries should be even higher than what has been approved but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif didn’t support the idea, the sources said. The day the cabinet approved the increase in salaries, the sitting of the NA was adjourned in the evening due to lack of quorum. At a time when the federal government hesitated to give pay raise to the salaried class citing the non-availability of funds as a major reason, it approved a massive raise in the salaries of MPs. For the last three years, the government has been giving seven to 10 percent raise in the basic salaries of public sector employees while a labourer’s monthly pay has been fixed at Rs 14,000 only. Instead of using the platform of Parliament for improving the living standard of the common man, they have made it a means of increasing their own income and privileges during their five years term. Their lavish lifestyle and massive expenditure during elections campaigns never justify this hefty raise. However it would not be fair to assume that all MPs mint money and therefore, need not appropriate salary and allowances commensurate with their status and responsibilities. MPs must be paid handsomely but they are also expected to deliver. The lawmakers have to improve their performance in the parliament and during the session their low attendance shows their lackluster attitude towards their responsibilities. They should work hard and play their due role in highlighting and resolving the problems of common man. They also need to introduce quality legislation for the progress and prosperity of the society and the country.