Pakistan: Bill seeks free travel perk for parliamentarians’ families

Pakistan: Bill seeks free travel perk for parliamentarians’ families

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ISLAMABAD: Parliamentary Affair Adviser Dr Babar Awan on Friday presented a bill in the Senate seeking parliamentarian’ free air travel privilege extended to their families.

The Members of Parliament (Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 aims at “ensuring the utility of 25 air tickets to the parliamentarians for their family members, sans any burden on the exchequer”.

It points out that under the existing legislation, 25 business class open return air tickets for parliamentarians could be substituted with travel vouchers of the equal amount — Rs300,000.

“The unutilised air tickets and vouchers for financial year 2019-20 will remain acceptable till their utilisation up to June 30, 2020,” it read.

The bill’s statement of objectives and reasons read that Section 10 of the existing act regulates free travel privilege of the MPs, who were entitled to 25 business class open return air tickets from the airport nearest to their constituencies to Islamabad each year.

“There has been persistent demand by the MPs to extend the utility of the 25 air tickets to their family members as well. The National Assembly Standing on Rules of Procedure has recommended accordingly,” it read.

“Therefore, vouchers of equal value in lieu of admissible 25 business class open return air tickets are proposed to be issued to the MPs that may be utilised by their family members as well.”

Under Section 10, every MP would be provided during vouchers worth Rs300,000 annually that would enable them to travel within the country by air or by rail at any time without payment of fare.

The bill read that the number of air tickets would remain 25 in a year and expenses would not increase, whereas the lawmaker could refund the unused air tickets.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani asked the members to forward their recommendations on the bill till June 8 while a report would be presented in the House within ten days by the relevant committee.

In February this year, the upper house of parliament had rejected a bill seeking an increase in the salaries of lawmakers after majority of the members belong to both opposition and government termed it “inappropriate” owing to economic slowdown in the country.

The draft Salaries and Allowances Amendment Bill, tabled by Senator Naseebullah Bazai, called for an increase in the monthly pay of the Senate chairman and National Assembly speaker from Rs225,000 to Rs879,000 to match the salaries of Supreme Court judges.

It also sought a raise in the remuneration of the Senate deputy chairman and National Assembly deputy speaker to match those of Islamabad High Court judges.

Moreover, the bill further called for a 100% raise in the salaries of member of parliament from Rs150,000 to Rs300,

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