LAHORE     -    Legislators from both sides of the political divide in Punjab Assembly set aside their differences yesterday for the common cause of a hefty increase in their own salary and allowances.

The House echoed with ayes when the Speaker sought consent on the passage of The Punjab Public Representatives Laws (Amendment) Bill 2009, which is said to be aimed at bringing perks and privileges of Punjab legislators ‘at par’ with their colleagues at the other federating units.

Under the bill, salaries of the speaker and deputy speaker have been increased to Rs260,000 and Rs245,000, respectively, while an MPA will now draw Rs195,000 per month.

As for the provincial cabinet, the salary of the chief minister has been increased to Rs425,000 per month and that of the ministers to Rs275,000.

Besides salary, each legislator will receive an additional amount of Rs50,000 per month as house rent.

Former chief ministers, who do not have their own house in Lahore, would be given official residence in the provincial capital.

During Government Business, the chair allowed moving a resolution for relaxing rules to accommodate out of turn legislation. After relaxation of rules, PML-N legislator Agha Ali Haider presented the bill for increase in salaries and perks of the lawmakers.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle were one voice when the chair sought sense from the House. PPP’s Hassan Murtaza was the only exception who uttered the words ‘no’, apparently just for the sake of fun. Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi ignored his no and gave ruling of unanimous passage of the bill.

The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday also passed The Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre Bill-2019 with a majority, rejecting all amendments proposed by the opposition legislators.

Minister for Health Dr Yasmin Rashid and Law Minister Raja Basharat opposed the amendment of giving PKLI&RC status of a trust, saying that Punjab government would meet the expenditure of the institute. As such, they said, it could not be given status of a trust.

The House also voted all other amendments proposed by the opposition including the one giving Prof Saeed Akhtar a role in the Board of Governors. The minister said that his (Prof Saeed) services could be utilised somewhere else.

PML-N’s Khawaja Imran Nazir staged a walkout from the House for not giving him floor to speak on PKLI&RC issue. The chair asked the legislator to sit down saying he knew nothing about liver and its transplant. PML-N legislators followed their colleague to protest against the attitude of the speaker.

Earlier, the proceedings on question hour on Youth Affairs and Sports and Population Welfare lasted for just half an hour. To a question of PML-N’s Iftikhar Hussain, Population Welfare Minister Hashim Dogar said that public awareness about family planning was a continuous process.

He said that centres were providing counselling services and quality family planning products. He added that the centres also provide consultation on issues relating to reproductive health, infertility and sexually transmitted diseases.

To a question of Tahir Pervaiz, the minister said that 87 welfare centres, six family health clinics and the same number of mobile health units were working in Faisalabad district.

He said that mobile health units were providing family planning facilities in far flung areas of six tehsils of Faisalabad. He said that those needing antenatal or postnatal care were referred to family health clinics. On completion of agenda, the chair adjourned the session till 11am Thursday (today).