KARACHI - Sindh Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a bill for hefty increase in the salaries and perks of chief minister, provincial ministers and legislators, speaker, deputy speaker, special assistants and parliamentary secretaries, besides other privileges.

Both sides of the aisle showed an unprecedented unity when Senior Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro submitted a report, recommending increase in the salaries and perks of provincial legislators.

Not a single member of the opposition resisted the bill which is a common practice in the House whenever the legislation pertains to the monetary benefits of legislators.The report recommends increasing the monthly salary of the chief minister to Rs150,000 and that of speaker to Rs140,000.

Similarly, Select Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members, in its report, has recommended increasing the monthly salaries of provincial ministers and advisors to Rs75,000 and that of advisers, without portfolio, to Rs70,000 per month.

It has also been recommended to fix the monthly salary of special assistants at Rs70,000 and parliamentary secretaries at Rs60,000.

The salary of a lawmaker has been increased from Rs24, 000 to Rs50,000, while another Rs15,000 will be given in the shape of utility bills subsidy.

The provincial ministers will get Rs75,000 in the form of perks, including stipends for utility bills, maintenance and medical allowances, apart from 500 liters of petrol, an official car, a driver, Rs55,000 under house allowance and Rs50,000 under equipment allowance.

The lawmakers, who represent the constituencies outside Karachi, will get an additional Rs5,000 for accommodation and around 0.2 million rupees annually. Moreover, the opposition leader has been given the status of a minister.Meanwhile, responding to a call attention notice, Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Jam Khan Shoro assured the House that his ministry was taking pragmatic steps to deal with the issues confronting the people of Karachi and interior Sindh.

MQM member Kamran Akhtar, in his call attention notice, drew the attention of minister for local government towards the shortage of drinking water in Baldia Town, and alleged that both water mafia and Industrial Area SITE drew water from the main pipeline.

“In this regard, a separate plan is under consideration at Water Board MD’s office.The minister replied that the government was aware of the severe water shortage and in order to deal with the situation more than a dozen illegal hydrants had been closed.

He said that now only one hydrant was functioning in each district of the metropolis.

Responding to another call attention notice of PML-N lawmaker Sorath Thebo, Jam Khan Shoro said that no solar hydrant existed in district Dadu.

Thebo had asked the minister about the number of solar hydrants installed in district Dadu.

Replying to yet another call attention notice, the minister again assured the House that the government was striving hard to provide water to the people according to their needs.PTI legislator Khurram Sher Zaman, in his call attention notice, complained to the minister about leakage & shortage of water in his constituency (PS-112) for the past several months. “Unfortunately my complaint is still to be addressed,” he said, and asked as to how much more time the ministry required for addressing his grievance.

The House, which was summoned by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani 1145 hours against the scheduled time of 1000 hours, adopted Sindh Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which was tabled by minister for parliamentary affairs as supplementary agenda.

The minister for parliamentary affairs presented three audit reports by Auditor General of Pakistan on various accounts of the provincial departments.

The speaker informed the House that the governor had given his assent to the ILMA University Bill, 2016, passed by the Assembly.The chair declared the adjournment motion of PTI lawmaker Dr Seema Zia about increasing pollution in Karachi as ‘out of order’.The House was later prorogued sine die.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 19-May-2017 here.