ISLAMABAD: At a time when the government could not increase its employees’ salaries for the next fiscal year, the Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance & Revenue on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that allowed the family members of parliamentarians to avail 25 business class domestic air tickets, besides Rs300,000 annual travel vouchers.
Justifying the facilities for parliamentarians, committee chairman Senator Farooq Hamid Naek remarked, “All parliamentarians are not rich,” claiming that Members of Parliament (Salaries and Allowances) Amendment Bill 2020, would not have an additional burden on the national exchequer since “changes were only made in the procedures”.
According to the Parliamentary Affairs Division, the free travel privilege for parliamentarians was regulated under Section 10 of the Members of Parliament (Salary & Allowances) Act 1974, wherein members were entitled to 25 business class open return air tickets per annum from the airport nearest to their constituencies to Islamabad.
In addition, yearly vouchers of Rs300,000 were also provided to parliamentarians as well as their family members for travelling by air or train.
The division stated that there had been persistent demand by the parliamentarians to extend the utility of 25 air tickets to their family members as well, adding that National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Rules of Procedures had also supported this demand.
“Therefore, vouchers of equal value in lieu of admissible 25 business class open return air tickets would now be issued to the members of the parliament, which could also be utilized by the family members of the parliament as well,” the division stated. “Also, the 25 open business class air tickets and vouchers issued for a year would not expire and would be allowed to be utilized by spouses or children under 18 years of age anytime.”
The bill was moved by Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan in the Senate. Under the amended law, a member not interested to be given vouchers shall be paid an allowance, equivalent to the entitled value of the vouchers.
Later, the Senate body deferred a discussion on another bill, wherein the Federal Board Revenue had sought amendments in Customs Act 1969 to empower the FBR’s Board to change the HS Code of imported items so that tax slabs could be changed. The committee would discuss the related rules in its upcoming meetings.