LAHORE - Punjab Assembly yesterday unanimously approved the bill that enhanced salaries, allowances, perks and privileges of legislators to nearly 100 per cent.
The House also carried out legislation with a majority vote that increased maternity leave benefits of women employees before and after the childbirth.
Legislators from both sides of the political divide became one voice for doubling salaries, perks and privileges with effect from July 2015. All the legislators expressed joy by thumping desks after passage of Punjab Public Representative Amendment Bill.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan expressed gratitude to the Opposition legislators, especially to those of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for extending cooperation in approving the legislation. He said that the bill could not be approved if PTI has not struck a deal (muk muka) that raised laughter in the House.
Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal expunged the word muk muka from the proceedings.
Law Minister said that the allegations that MPAs raise hands for legislation without knowing anything were false and frivolous. He said that salaries and allowances of the legislators in Punjab needed to be raised and rationalised and making it comparable with the emoluments of MPAs and Parliamentary Secretaries in other provinces.
He said that he was under pressure from the Treasury benches to raise the salaries, perks and privileges of MPAs which were last raised in 2006.
He said that Chief Minister initially refused to allow such legislation, but later agreed on the condition that it should be unconditionally supported by the Opposition.
He said that the CM also initially refused to raise the salaries from July 2015. He (CM), later agreed on the condition of support from the Opposition, he said.
The House approved the Punjab Maternity Benefits Amendment Bill after incorporating two cut motions from the Opposition and rejecting the third one. The legislation requires that no woman worker shall be engaged in employment during a period of six weeks after and before having childbirth. Besides, women employees must not be given strenuous work or that needing long hours of standing or that likely to adversely affect her health for one month immediately before and after the mandatory six weeks leave period.
The House allowed two amendments which require that maternity benefits should be allowed to women employees working on regular or temporary basis, and to the women employed in the jobs of any nature.
Opposition’s Khadija Umar, Faiza Malik and others suggested that women workers needed more benefits in accordance with the conventions applicable in other parts of the world.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told the House that the legislation was aimed at protecting the ante and post natal health of working mothers, apart from the existing provision six weeks leave.
Earlier, the proceedings started one hour and 25 minutes behind the scheduled time with Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal in the chair.
Parliamentary Secretary Mehr Ijaz Ahmed remained on the receiving end from both sides of the political divide during Question Hour on Home Department. Legislators from the Treasury and the Opposition expressed dissatisfaction over replies from the Parliamentary Secretary and recorded their protests with the chair.
Later, the session was adjourned till Monday, February 15 after completion of the agenda.