LAHORE - Bureaucrats draw higher salaries and enjoy more benefits as compared to the elected representatives who are supposed to make policies and enact laws for all sectors.

However, the legislators don’t have to face the checks and accountability the bureaucrats do.

Likewise, the MPs have ample time to focus on their private businesses, legal practices, something impossible for the bureaucrats to do.

Interestingly, legislators are empowered to fix their own salaries and perks and make them effective from date they deem fit.

Despite all this, MPs have to do much less work as compared to the bureaucrats and can quickly climb higher rungs of the political ladder. Needless to point out that an illiterate person who did not go to school even for a single day can get himself elected to any provincial or federal legislature, depending on his contacts and resources. And a person elected as an MPA or MNA can also become a provincial minister, minister of state, adviser, special assistant to PM or CM and parliamentary secretary, according to the power of his shoulders. There is no need of training for the elected representatives that do the sacred and sensitive job of legislation to which both the judiciary and executive follow.

The bureaucrats, on the other hand, have to sift through a tough mechanism of competition to get them appointed in public sector.

The provincial lawmakers, in a self-serving legislation, voted to boost their pays and perks by nearly 100 percent. At the same session they approved increase in officials’ salaries just 7.5pc during 2015-16.

Not a single member pointed out its financial impact on the poor accounts facing severe shortage of funds for completion of development projects. Each MPA will get over Rs 266,000 as arrears while total money may exceed Rs 9.8686 million besides permanent financial load.

The Punjab Assembly members had been seeking upward revision in their salaries and the ad-hoc relief allowances as have been granted to civil servants since 2009. After an increase in salaries and allowances of federal and state ministers, a private bill with signatures of many members of the Punjab Assembly was also tabled in the Assembly Secretariat, seeking raise in pay, perks and privileges.

On the other hand, the senior bureaucrats serving inGrade-22 draw Rs 111,195 besides other perks and privileges. Administrative secretaries get Rs 30,000 as utility allowances in addition to the salary. They also get entertainment allowance and 200 liters of petrol besides a luxury car and a big bungalow, house servants, drivers and many things more. A bungalow costs the government over 100,000 to 200,000 each the bureaucrats reside in. Only a tiny deduction from their salaries is made against such palaces.

With 371 legislators for a scheduled 100 days’ assembly session, the attendance remains low. Contribution of a good number of MPs is just raising hands when required to pass a bill.

Both of the two, the legislators and the bureaucrats, claim to be an integral part of the provincial machinery. They, being important tiers of administration and legislature, remain busy opposing each other over powers.

The story of tug of war between the legislators and officers for powers as well as perks remained a hot topic during current tenure of PML-N in Punjab. The legislators not only succeeded in multiplying their perks, they also opted for more executive powers currently being exercised by the bureaucracy, which the latter opposed. The S&GAD wrote to the CM that the Westminster model adopted by the province gives no powers but legislation on any issue under the Constitution. The empowerment of MPAs means weakening ministerial control over departments, the letter outlined.

A senior bureaucrat, talking on MPs’ demand on share in executive powers, said they never do their own business of legislation. The fake attendance in addition to TAs and DAs adds to their performance. He said they already claim three days before and after a single day session that was a big burden on taxpayers.

The members are allowed to do business, practice law, run hospitals, agriculture farms, educational institutions, trade, transportation and factories. The public servants, on the other hand, are denied such benefits as they know nothing about their tomorrow’s place of posting, the officer attributed. Some of the public representatives earn millions of rupees from the funds given to them for public development projects in their areas. Some of them get kickbacks and commission by using their influence in decision making.

An opposition MPA justified raise, kickbacks and commission, linking it to the poor salaries. He supported the current boost in MPs’ pays, citing another view that the emoluments of the members were less than their counterparts in other provinces. The ‘Conflict of Interest Law’ under legislation in the KP Assembly was meant to resolve issues of emoluments, kickbacks and bribes that the MPs usually face, he added.

While a treasury MPA, conditioning anonymity, said the officers get many times more when they work in projects and companies like district monitoring officers in the education sector and officers posted in strategic planning units of different departments. A grade-17 officer gets over Rs 40,000 allowance in projects and a grade-18 officer Rs 50,000, in addition to salary. Likewise, grade-19 and grade-20 officers get Rs 60,000 and Rs 70,000, respectively, when posted as additional programme directors or project directors.

Responding to a query on huge expenses on Orange Line project, ignoring health and education, the MPA said, “Stop pitting roads against education or legislators against teachers and nurses; it makes no sense in this society,” the MPA remarked.