A wrong sense of entitlement


WEB DESK: At a time when most people are struggling to make ends meet, members of Parliament have recommended a phenomenal increase in their own salaries and allowances.

The National Assembly adopted the other day a report prepared by its Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges asking for more than a three-fold increase in the salaries of members and presiding officers of the two houses. This they want despite a substantial increase during the recent years, and receiving far too many generous allowances.

How unreasonable the parliamentarians’ wishes are, comes out from the recommendation that business class air tickets available to them should be increased from 20 to 30, which should also be convertible in favour of their family members, and furthermore that they be given the option to encash travel vouchers. It is more than obvious that they do not need any extra vouchers, and want to use them as yet another way to grab as much public money as possible. Otherwise, instead of asking for encashment they should be returning unused vouchers.

Dominating all through the report is an unabashed sense of entitlements rather than concern for the people they represent. The Standing Committee report also said parliamentarians’ salaries should be higher than the maximum pays and allowances drawn by federal secretaries. There are no comparisons to be made. Unlike government servants, legislators are there for a limited time period to protect and promote the public interest. The salaries and other allowances they receive are meant to cover only expenses involved in the performance of their legislative responsibilities.

As public representatives they should be identifying themselves with the people rather than the highest government functionaries. On the contrary, even former legislators seek privileged treatment not only for themselves but their families at airports and other public places.

They have been demanding blue passports for their families complaining of embarrassment when accompanying spouse and/or children are made to stand in queues alongside ordinary people. Creditably for him, Senate Chairman, Raza Rabbani, has rejected the higher pay motion for Senators saying he considers the demand as unjust. In any event, it does not behove members of the highest national forum to self-determine what they should be receiving by way of salaries and other monetary benefits. In so doing they are also sending a message to public sector employees to demand a lot more than the budgetary constraints permit. Hopefully, the motion will fail when it comes up for a vote.

For future, increase in parliamentarians’ pay and allowances should be made in accord with average raise annually announced for the public sector. A parliamentary committee may decide perks and privileges, but that should be applicable to members of next parliament.

Source: Business Recorder