Opposition in Pak rejects move to increase president’s salary

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ISLAMABAD, May 29: The opposition on Monday protested in the National Assembly over the government’s move to introduce a bill seeking an exorbitant increase of over 530 per cent in the president’s salary, terming it “unnecessary and illogical”.

The bill was introduced by minister in charge of the cabinet secretariat Sheikh Aftab Ahmed soon after failing to give a satisfactory reply to a call attention notice regarding “the non-payment of salaries of temporary teachers of Islamabad model colleges and schools” for the past three months despite release of funds by the finance ministry.

“We respect the office of the president. But already we are spending billions on the Presidency. Why does he need a salary raise?” said Rashid Godil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) while objecting to the government’s move to introduce the bill suggesting that the president’s salary be increased to Rs846,550 from the existing pay of Rs133,333.

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The MQM MNA regretted that on the one hand, the minister was unable to give any commitment regarding the payment of salaries to the teachers and on the other hand, he was quick in moving the bill to increase the president’s salary.

“Give our salaries as well to the president,” Mr Godil said, suggesting that the president’s salary should be fixed equivalent to a Grade-22 officer.

Dr Shireen Mazari of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) said that it was “shameful” that the government was increasing the salary of the president at a time when the teachers had been suffering due to non-payment of salaries.

“What does the president do? What powers does he have? We should condemn it,” Dr Mazari said, asking the government to withdraw the bill. She said that this bill would be a “black spot” on the face of the government which was going to complete its term in three days.

Sahibzada Tariqullah of Jamaat-i-Islami also opposed the bill, terming the move “unnecessary”.

It may be recalled that the president’s salary was last revised in December 2004 at Rs80,000 and then it was increased to Rs133,333 in the last federal budget.

Sources said that in the cabinet it had been decided that being head of the state, the salary of the president must be re-fixed and symbolically it should be one rupee higher than the salary of the chief justice of Pakistan.

At the outset of the session, MQM members staged a token walkout from the house to register their protest over the government’s decision of going to the general elections without releasing the official results of the population census conducted last year

The sitting of the assembly was once again adjourned by Speaker Ayaz Sadiq due to lack of quorum.

PTI’s Dr Shireen Mazari pointed out lack of quorum when she was denied the floor by the speaker as she wanted to speak on a point of order.

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