Pakistan: Cash-strapped govt increases salary, allowances and additional privileges of parliamentarians


One would think that in a country that is undergoing a severe financial crunch, where the government is strapped for cash and is fighting against its political mandate to balance a budget, austerity would be the first step taken by the legislative bodies. However, the details of the proposed federal budget 2023 are contrary to that. Not only has the government proposed to increase salary, allowances and other privileges of parliamentarians but according to media reports, 3 bills pertaining to the privileges of senate chairman and members were also passed in quick succession before the conclusion of Friday’s session.

Overall, The federal government has allocated Rs 13 billion (1300 crore) budget for Parliamentarians including Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate, Speaker and Deputy Speaker National Assembly and members of lower and upper house of Parliament. This is to say that for every parliamentarian, a gross amount of 2.9 crore/annum has been allocated on average.

The highest increase, in this regard, has been made in the salaries allowances as well as travel and transportation expenses of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Senate.

The Federal government has allocated Rs 26.4 crore budget for Speaker and Deputy Speaker National Assembly for the next year 2023-24, increasing it by Rs 17.3 crore as the Finance division had allocated Rs 9.1 crore in the budget of 2023-24 for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.

While making an increase of Rs 12.6 crores, the budget of National Assembly members surged to almost Rs 148 crore in 2023-24 from Rs 135 crore in 2022-23.

Documents show that the government has also increased the budget of the opposition leader in the National Assembly which increased to Rs 47 lakh in 2023-24 from Rs 38.7 lakh in 2022-23.

Meanwhile, an increase in the budget of Rs 24 lakh , which was initially at Rs 94 lakh in 2022-23, was also made for the Chairman of Kashmir Committee.

Similarly, the government has also allocated Rs 11.7 crore as budget for Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate for next fiscal year. This marks a record increase of Rs 4.9 crore. While the other increases are marked as proposed under the budget for 2023-24. Media reports have confirmed that a private member bill for the increase in the salaries of Chairman and Deputy Chairman senate has already been passed during the senate session on Friday.

According to reports, the bill The Chairman Senate (Salaries, Allowance and Privileges) Act, 2023, will benefit all the past, present and all future Senate chairmens at the cost of taxpayers’ money.

As published, the Section 21 of the Bill reads, “Every person who has held the office of Chairman for a full term of three years, shall be entitled for life to full security detail that is to say six sentries at the declared residence, four personnel of police, anti-terrorism force, rangers, frontier corps or frontier constabulary in one squad vehicle, for which the federal government in Islamabad, or a provincial government in the respective province, shall make the required arrangements.”

In Section 16 the bill says that, the chairman shall be entitled to such personal staff as may be prescribed by the Finance Committee, which shall be authorised to provide personal staff, regular or contractual, not exceeding the limit of 12 in number who has held the office of chairman for a full term.

The Section 20 reads as, “The Finance Committee of the Senate may grant the chairman and the person who has held such office for a full term of three years, such additional privileges as it may deem fit.”

The Chairman senate, however stated that, “such reports were not based on solid facts and there was wrong information being communicated related to this bill.” He says that in the bill, the old act of 1975 was rectified and corrected as per the decisions of the concerned committees from time to time. ​​The chairman said that this bill was presented with an objective to make clarity on the matter without getting any financial benefit.

Coming to the presented budget FY24, the revised allocated budget for Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate was already recorded at Rs 6.9 crore during the current year 2022-23.

Documents show that the government has allocated Rs 65.1 crores budget in 2023-24 for ‘Members of the Senate’ against the total revised allocation of Rs 56.3 crore in 2022-23. This shows an increase of Rs 8.76 crores in the Pay and other allowances of Senators.

The documents of the budget also show that the budget of the Leader of the House and Opposition leader in the Senate has surged to Rs 61 lakh and Rs 75.9 lakh