For Gilani, PM post replaced by lifetime of perks

Gilani

ISLAMABAD: It may have been a painful experience for Yousaf Raza Gilani to be unceremoniously kicked out from his office – but he has much to compensate him for his woes.

Under the Salaries and Allowances Act of 1974, Gilani is to continue to enjoy privileges, in spite of his conviction. The former premier, like over 20 former prime ministers, will continue to have access to a life-time of completely free-of-charge perks, including cars and a sprawling bungalow with security in the heart of the country’s capital.

The silver lining for Gilani, who lost his honour of being the country’s longest serving prime minister following the Supreme Court’s verdict in a contempt of court case, lies in the absence of laws that address the aftermath of a lawmaker’s conviction. Such laws, like those present in other democratic countries, could have rendered him ineligible for receiving such privileges.In India, for instance, former prime ministers are usually entitled to six executive-class air tickets annually, a 14-member secretarial staff, office expenses and vehicles. On condition of anonymity, a member of the National Assembly told Media that if a lawmaker is convicted by the court, then he or she is treated merely as a former lawmaker.

“There is no such law at the moment which can define whether a convicted former lawmaker or prime minister of the country can enjoy privileges and perks or not.”Former senator Professor Khurshid called for formulating new laws, stressing that convicted lawmakers, particularly those who have held the position of prime minister, president, national assembly speaker, chief minister, governor and senate chairman, should be deprived of perks if they stand disqualified by courts.Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Tariq Azeem also endorsed the idea and said: “Any privilege due to former elected parliamentarians should be denied to those convicted by the courts.”

Azeem also moved a bill titled Salary and Privileges of Parliamentarians 2010 in Senate. The bill was adopted by the upper house, after which it was referred to the National Assembly. The National Assembly, however, terming it a money bill, said it should be introduced in the lower house of Parliament first according to protocol.The Parliament also recently adopted the Finance Bill 2012. Under this bill, a former prime minister will be provided life-time security, transport facilities, personal staff, and medical facilities. PML-N demanded in its recommendations that such perks be overturned for all former lawmakers. The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), however, did not include these recommendations when Parliament adopted the bill.

The monthly remuneration for MNA consists of: A salary of around Rs 23,803; an ad-hoc allowance worth Rs11,903; office maintenance allowance worth Rs8,000; telephone allowance worth Rs10,000; sumptuary allowance worth Rs5,000; and ad-hoc relief allowance worth Rs3,571, according to last year’s figures. – Thetribune