Karachi - Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani on Tuesday formed a five-member committee to mull over raise in the salaries and perks of the provincial assembly members.

The committee, consisting of Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Minister of Health Sikander Mandhro, Minister for Transport Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, MQM lawmaker Heer Ismail Soho and PML-F lawmaker Mehtab Akber Rashidi, would submit its recommendations in the next session of the House.

The issue was raised by a MQM lawmaker Dewaan Chand Chawla on a point of order, who said that the salaries and perks of the lawmakers of National Assembly and other provincial assemblies were raised, but Sindh was the only province where despite price hike, their salaries were yet to be increased.

He demanded that salaries of Sindh MPs should be equal to that of their counterparts in other provincial assemblies so that they could also live a better life.  Speaking on the issue, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that he was aware that the government annually raised salaries of employees of different departments, but unfortunately the lawmakers did not come under this ambit. “They only receive a minimal amount that is quite low as compared to that of lawmakers of other countries’ assemblies,” he added.

“In Britain the lawmakers are also provided with staffers that help them in preparing legislations, but unfortunately there is no such system here and even an attempt to raise salaries in 2013 did not succeed,” he recalled.

The minister also suggested formation of a select committee to review amendments to Sindh Assembly Members’ Salaries and Allowances Act 1974. Meanwhile, a resolution tabled by PML-F member Nand Kumar regarding establishment of a well-equipped modern trauma centers in each district headquarter of the province was rejected by the Minister of Health Sikander Mandhro who said that the provincial government was upgrading all district headquarters hospitals in the province where facilities of trauma and surgery would be provided.

“There are 42 trauma centers working across the province, out of which 25 have been made functional while the remaining would be functional in two months,” he assured.

The PML-F lawmaker replied that if the health facilities would have been proper then the death toll after the Sehwan blast would not have risen.

MQM lawmaker Zafar Kamali also supported the resolution and said that there were no trauma centers in Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas.

The PTI Lawmaker Seema Zia said that only establishing a trauma center was not sufficient. “Instead it should also have a well trained staff,” she pointed out. The resolution was later rejected after a voice vote. Mahtab Akbar Shah Rashdi of the PML-F also tabled a resolution demanding formulation of a provincial health policy to resolve the critical health and nutrition issues. The resolution was also supported by MQM Parliamentary Leader Syed Sardar Ahmed who said that it was the basic right of people that health facilities were provided to them. “A health insurance policy for Sindh Secretariat employees was initiated some time ago but it was abandoned after two years,” he lamented.

The minister said that Sindh already had its health policy and it was possible that it would not have been implemented 100 percent. “We will consider positive recommendations from lawmakers,” he said.

The minister also announced formation of a committee, consisting of Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Mehtab Akber Rashidi, Dr Seema Zia and Syed Sardar Ahmed, to review the health policy and give recommendations for improvements. The resolution was later withdrawn by the mover.

Meanwhile, the MQM members staged a walk out from the assembly after the Minister for Education Jam Mehtab Dahar opposed a resolution tabled one of their colleagues who demanded that vacant posts of teaching/non-teaching staff in Sindh colleges be filled. The minister said the government had overcome the shortage of teachers in colleges and the issue of a subject specialist in colleges had also been addressed 90 percent while the remaining would be appointed after recruitment through public service commission. “The newly recruited lecturers will have to take oath of serving at the place of posting for five years and they will have to take five classes daily and teach 42 hours in a week,” he added.

The resolution was rejected after the minister’s remarks that prompted the members of MQM to walk out of the House.

MQM lawmaker Kamran Akhter also tabled a resolution regarding issuance of Health Cards to all those who worked/served the society, particularly the professional journalists.

The minister informed that the government would establish an endowment fund and would also give life time health cards to the journalists.

The minister further asked to send the resolution to the standing committee on health so that it could mull over the health card scheme and give recommendations on it. The resolution was later forwarded to the standing committee and was asked to submit report on it within a month.