Pakistan's finally tackling the menace of poverty and I can't help but smell the sweet scent of progress, which now permeates the air. A betterment in the livelihood of a nation's leaders is surely indicative of progress; is it not? Stumbled upon figures for the remuneration package of our law makers i.e. Members of the National Assembly (courtesy Teeth Maestro). Now before I'd seen these figures I'd imagined the official salary to be around Rs. 25,000/month or so, the unofficial perks of course would take this into the millions. Was I shocked when I saw these OFFICIAL figures, judge for yourself:
Pakistani MNA’s Salary and Government Perks
- Monthly Salary Rs.120, 000 to 200,000
- Expense for Constitution per month Rs.100, 000
Office expenditure per month Rs.140, 000
Traveling concession (Rs. 8 per km)
(For a visit to ISLAMABAD & return: 6000 km) Rs.48, 000
Daily BETA during Assembly meets Rs.500
Charge for 1 class (A/C) in train (All over PAKISTAN) Free Unlimited
- Charge for Business Class in flights
- (With wife or P.A. in PIA), Free for 40 trips / year
- Rent for Govt. hostel any where Free
- Electricity costs at home Free, up to 50,000 units
Local phone call charge Free, up to 170, 000 calls.
(Disclaimer: I have no way of verifying these figures, I've tried online and the same figures keep on coming back but none are from official sources) Oh and there are 342 MNAs! So lets examine some of the figures.
Office Expenditure - This expenditure is for the personal office of the MNA in their districts, for in the Capital they are given offices. The MNAs are also provided office staff in their district and in the Capital as part of their protocol. I can not ever remembering seeing or hearing about any MNA having an office, so in essence this is simply part of their base salary.
Travel Concession - This has nothing to do with the airfare, or expenses for housing as MNAs are provided both of those for free. The Travel Concession in the simplest terms is a fee for the inconvenience caused to the MNAs who have to travel from their district to the Capital. Now this is standard practise for, say, a law firm whose associates have to travel at the behest of a client and are therefore inconvenienced as they have to divert and delay their other work. But it’s ridiculous that an MNA is paid this for travelling to Islamabad and being part of the Legislature is the basic requirement of their job.
Air Fare: That's 80 Business Class flights per MNA, and there are 342 of them. So PIA in total PIA dishes out 27360 free Business Class fights to MNAs alone, never mind the likes of Ahsan and the rest of the Establishment. Not sure if they're domestic or international though.
Electricity Bill: By my calculations (considering that Rs.10000 equates to 1200 Units) the MNAs are allowed to rack up a Bill of about Rs. 35000 a month!
Phone: That's a Hundred and Seventy Thousand Calls...Fucking Hell!
At the end of the day, inclusive of perks I would estimate our MNAs cost the exchequer over a Million Dollars a year. And this is how they performed:
In 2006 MNAs worked for 132 days (there’s a constitutional minimum of 130) and answered 2000 questions out of the 10,000 that were asked of them on the NA floor.
After these wonderful accomplishments who can begrudge our MNAs receiving a Million Dollars a year. Any one for privatisation of the National Assembly?
Source: Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, Pakistan.
Compare this with the Salaries and Benefits of a US Congressman which averages around $163,000/year plus medical and very few other perks - I know from watching West Wing that there's definitely no allowance for rent and some congressman live in really tiny ass places in DC as they can't maintain two houses. Of course there are substantial Corporate Perks which a Congressman may avail but so can a Pakistani MNA, free cars, round the clock police presence and an army of slaves that a feudal lord MNA just must have, its all the rage, don't you know. And these are all legit figures, add corruption to this and they've got themselves a sweet pay day.
P.S. I want to be an MNA!