Amid financial constraints, GB hikes MPAs salaries by up to 135pc

ISLAMABAD: The Gilgit-Baltistan government has increased salaries of lawmakers from 56 percent to 135 percent amid financial constraints and austerity measures announced by the federal as well as provincial governments.

Through a resolution unanimously passed by the members of ruling and opposition parties, the Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) approved a bill for increasing salaries and benefits of the Chief Minister, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Provincial Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Members of the Assembly by up to 135 percent.

Interestingly, the lawmakers have approved the bill at a time when the centre has hardly restored the previous budget of the region after a drastic cut. The centre after much hue and cry had agreed to maintain the previous level of budget to both GB and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK). It had earlier decided to cut both the non-development and development budget of GB and AJK along with other provinces.

GBLA members from opposition parties, which were earlier critical of the regional government for its failure to get the required budget from the centre, were also happy to see the bill regarding salary increase in the regional assembly.

After passage of the bill by the assembly ahead of budget of the budget being presented on Monday (today), salary of the GB Chief Minister has been increased from over Rs500,000 to Rs780,000 (56 percent) whereas salary of Speaker GBLA has been increased to Rs780,000 from existing over Rs400,000 per month with 95 percent increase.

The salary of the Deputy Speaker has jumped from Rs376,000 to Rs650,000 (72.8 percent) while the salary of the Provincial ministers has been increased from Rs352,000 to Rs600,000 (70 percent).

As per the approved bill, the salary of the chairman of the standing committee has been increased from Rs 240,000 to 565,000 (135 percent).  The salary of members of the assembly has also been enhanced from Rs 210000 to Rs 465000 (121 percent).

As per the officials, the bill was presented in the assembly for a second time during a session on Saturday, chaired by Deputy Speaker Nazir Ahmed, as earlier the same was turned down with objection. The Deputy Speaker informed the House that there was nothing objectionable in the Bill therefore it has been presented again. Later both the opposition and government members present in the House unanimously supported the Bill and it was passed unanimously.

As per a member of the assembly the copy of the bill was not in the folder of any member of the Assembly, not even in the folder of the provincial ministers.

It may be recalled here when the bill was presented first Chief Minister GB Khalid Khurshid Khan had announced withdrawal of the bill following a public backlash. Following the criticism in the media , then Governor Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon had objected to the bill and sent it back to the Assembly.

The passed bill in the current session will now automatically become part of the law after 15 days.

 

Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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