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Fawad Chaudhry takes U-turn, retracts support for Punjab Assembly’s decision to raise salaries

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday took a U-turn and retracted his support for the Punjab Assembly’s decision to increase the salaries and perks of MPAs, ministers and the provincial chief minister.

Speaking to the media earlier during the day, the information minister had supported the Punjab Assembly’s decision and said, “I feel the salaries of MPAs were very low. The monthly pay was Rs80,000 which was raised to Rs150,000.”

“If we do not take these steps then those belonging to the middle class will not contest the elections,” the information minister had further said and added, “If you say that MPAs and MNAs should not be given salaries then you will driving the middle class driven out of politics.”

However, later following a tweet by Prime Minister Imran Khan expressing disappointment over the move, Chaudhry tweeted, “Seems Punjab Government and the CM House is in the dark about the PM and the federal government austerity policies otherwise such sham exercise of awarding huge benefits to themselves would not have happened.”

PM Imran had criticised the move and said, “I am extremely disappointed by decision of Punjab Assembly to raise pays and privileges of MPAs, ministers and especially CM. Once prosperity returns to Pakistan such a move could be justified, but now, when we do not have resources to provide basic amenities to all our people, this is untenable.”

The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday increased the salaries, perks and privileges of its members to more than double after making legislation in record haste, within 24 hours of tabling the bill concerned. The unanimously-passed legislation was tabled as a private bill by treasury’s Ghazanfar Abbas Cheena on a private members day on Tuesday.

The bill ended up as a unanimous bill since none of the members opposed it from both sides, except PPP’s parliamentary leader Hasan Murtaza. It was unanimously passed after a standing committee also gave its approval within a few minutes of discussion.

After this legislation, the Punjab chief minister will draw Rs 350,000 per month, while members will draw over 200,000 per month as their basic pay and allowances rose to more than double. The salaries of the members of the Punjab Assembly and ministers raised by the provincial assembly exceed the pays of their counterparts in all the provinces and at the federal level.

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