Report by Asim Yasin, published in “The News” on May 20, 2005
ISLAMABAD: Four senators in the 100-member House have declined to accept the pay raise and continue to draw salary according to pre-November, 2003 scales.
Among them, 3 belong to the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) including Prof Khurshid Ahmad, Prof Muhammad Ibrahim and Prof Ghafoor Ahmed while the fourth one is Pakistan People’s Party’s Farhatullah Babar.
Last month the government approved a 15 per cent pay raise for the MPs. This was the second raise in pay and perks for the present graduate parliament whose members were elected with a pledge by General Musharraf to cleanse politics of corruption and self-seeking individuals.
The first pay raise of nearly one hundred percent was announced in November 2003 while the parliament was witnessing rowdy scenes of “go Musharraf go” and “no Musharraf no”. Before the November 2003 pay raise, a parliamentarian was paid a gross monthly salary of about Rs 24,000 including daily and conveyance allowances. This was raised to nearly Rs 50,000 gross emoluments in November 2003.
Initially, the MMA senators informed the Senate Secretariat that they had decided not to accept the raise temporarily and would take a decision in due course of time in the light of how parliament proceeded in its work.
However, within weeks these senators decided to accept the pay raise, with most of them saying that instead of abandoning the additional benefits to the government for spending it in questionable ways they would like to draw it from the exchequer and themselves donate it for charitable causes.
Farhatullah Babar in his letter said he had publicly opposed the pay raise, as the parliament remained dysfunctional, its members were unable to perform their duties and conditions of poverty and unemployment were pathetic. “It is not possible for me to accept the pay raise and denounce it at the same time”.