ISLAMABAD - The Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue yesterday rejected the Members of Election Commission (Salaries, Allowances, Perks and Privileges) Bill, 2016, saying it is not the money bill that should be approved by the committee.

The committee sent the bill to the National Assembly to clarify how and why the bill was declared as money bill which in their reading does not seem to be money bill. “We are sending it back to the National Assembly speaker to explain why he termed it a money bill,” said Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue Chairman Senator Saleem Mandviwalla. The government had introduced a bill in the parliament about salaries, allowances, perks and privileges of members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as admissible for a judge of the high court.

The Senate committee was informed that members of the ECP were drawing salaries without approval of the parliament during previous five years. The ECP had directly written a letter to the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue for their salaries, setting aside the parliament. However, Finance Secretary Waqar Masood said that the ECP members were withdrawing salaries on temporary basis.

Independent Senator Mohsin Laghari criticised the working of retired judges by saying they were not only receiving salaries but also getting pensions and other incentives. However, Senator Talha Mahmood of JUI-F and Senator Mohsin Aziz of PTI defended the working of retired judges. They said that retired judges receive salaries by performing national duties.

Waqar Masood said that monthly salary of the ECP members is around Rs 0.7 million.

He also gave presentation on the Pakistan-IMF programme. Pakistan is all set to complete first-ever IMF's programme successfully this year, Finance Secretary Waqar Masood said. He informed the Senate committee that Pakistan had so far completed 10 economic reviews under IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) Programme that was approved in September 2013. Sharing future aspects of the EFF, he said Pakistan and IMF would hold 11th economic review in May while last and 12th review would be held in August 2016.

Masood said Pakistan had so far received $5.76 billion from IMF and $4.4 billion were returned to pay back the previous loan taken from the Fund. He further said the last loan taken from IMF was against 1.03 percent markup rate while the current loan has been provided at 1.05 percent.

Saleem Mandviwalla congratulated the finance secretary for successful completion of the programme.

Masood told the committee that the country would not need further IMF’s programme if the economic situation remained satisfactory as it was now. He further said circular debt has not increased due to improved recoveries and reduction in line losses. The committee deferred the discussions on the clearance of circular debt of power sector (Rs 480 billion).

The committee also discussed privatisation process of public sector entities, structure of PIA privatisation and future of its employees. The Privatisation Commission secretary informed the committee that the employees of PIA would get legal cover after privatisation of its 26 percent shares.