ISLAMABAD - The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Saturday appeared to be divided over a controversial draft bill that seeks two-fold increase in salaries and other perks of parliamentarians. The bill also seeks to increase over 300 per cent increase in the salary of National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker as well as Senate chairman and deputy chairman.

The draft Salaries and Allowances Amendment bill is set to land in Senate tomorrow (Monday) on private members’ day as the Senate Secretariat has made it part of the agenda for the day.

On one hand, Senator Sajjad Hussain Tori, the chief whip of PTI in the Senate, is among the movers of the bill besides other five lawmakers while on the other hand, a close aide to the PM Senator Faisal Javed Khan said that his party would oppose the proposed law.

The draft bill seeks to increase the salary of Senate chairman and National Assembly speaker with that of salaries of Supreme Court judges and proposes to increase it  from the present Rs205,000 (two hundred five thousand rupees) to Rs 879,669 (eight hundred seventy nine thousand six hundred sixty nine rupees).

The other movers of the bill are PML-N senators Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar, Dilawar Khan, and Shamim Afridi, National Party Senator Dr Ashok Kumar and an independent legislator from Balochistan Naseebullah Bazai

The bill seeks to increase in the salaries of National Assembly deputy speaker and Senate deputy chairman to match with those of salaries of high court judges.

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The bill further seeks to increase the salaries of members of the parliament from existing Rs150, 000 to Rs300, 000. It also proposes to increase travel allowance of parliamentarians to cover the cost of business class air tickets and air-conditioned class rail tickets.

It says 25 business class tickets would to be allocated for each lawmaker and these could be used by members’ spouses and children to travel within the country.

 The draft bill says that a member who performs a journey between the place where a session or meeting of a committee is held or other business connected with his duties as a member is transacted and a place which is not his usual place of residence many draw travelling allowance for such a journey.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan told reporters during a press conference that though PTI is not in majority in the Senate, yet it would do everything to make sure no injustice is done towards the public.

Answering to a question about PTI chief whip’s move to table the bill, she said that the party would implement Prime Minister Imran Khan’s austerity drive and member of the ruling party would have done this in an individual capacity.

The party does not support such measures, she added. She further said that those promoting their own cause were not well-wishers of the government.

PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan in a statement announced to oppose the bill saying that PM Imran Khan had announced austerity drive to save the national resources as “the public particularly the poor segment of the society was PTI’s priority.” He said PM started from himself not to spend unnecessary from the national kitty.

“PM stays at his personal residence while a historical decrease has been made in the expenditures of his Office,” he said adding that PM has set an example when it comes to spend on foreign tours.

Senator Faisal said that public representatives should follow the PM as long as the economy doesn’t stand on its feet. “Will not become part to increase salaries of parliamentarians and will oppose the bill,” he concluded.

On the other hand, the official sources in the Senate Secretariat said that Leader of the House in the Senate Syed Shibli Faraz has announced to support the bill on the grounds that all lawmakers are not used to be too rich.

The Parliamentary leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in the Senate Ms Sherry Rehman told The Nation that she had opposed the bill. “I opposed it in the House Business Advisory Committee while every other parliamentary leader supported it,” she said.

Senator Sherry further said that his party was not in support of burdening the public at such an economically critical time for people in Pakistan. “We should be sensitive to the fact that the whole country is facing an unprecedented inflationary pressure in their day to day lives. Even if our salary is less than the region’s parliamentarians, or even a Balochistan MP’s, it is highly inappropriate to award ourselves an increment of public money in such circumstances.”