Sherry Rehman supports govt employees’ demand for pay raise

Islamabad: Slamming the federal government for arresting instead of increasing the salaries of government employees, PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said the employees serve the country and were rightfully asking for a pay rise as inflation is going through the roof but instead the government was firing tear gas shells at them.

“They must be released immediately. This government is at war with its own employees, with student groups, with PTDC, Steel Mill, PIA employees, labour unions, with independent media and working journalists, with lawyers, doctors and Lady Health Workers, and of course the political opposition,” she said in a statement.

She added: “Government saying that it cannot increase their salaries is ridiculous because what exactly are they spending money on? Every government increases their salaries because inflation is going through the roof. Pakistan witnessed 12-year high inflation at 14.6% in January 2020 and rural inflation is at a staggering 20 % with people unable to afford two square meals a day, adding to growing food insecurity in the country. The PM of debt has taken $12 billion in loans in two and a half years, more than any debt any other government has taken, so the question arises : where is the money going? Do we see any relief for the people ? Do we see any development? Only Organizations being shut down and people being fired. Did President House become a library or did the PM House become a university? Everything is much worse than before in Naya Pakistan.”

Senator Rehman said, “PPP has always increased government employees’ salaries and pensions as they have fixed salaries and one has to take inflation into account. PPP has the credit of increasing their salaries by 125%. Every other day this government is increasing prices, and burying their own commodity scams but they can’t give a regular pay rise to the employees that serve Pakistan”.

“Just today NEPRA notified over Rs 1.53 paisa per unit rise in power tariff. Then back-to-back petrol hikes have put an additional burden of Rs200b on the people. Consumers now pay Rs47 extra on every litre of petrol. On top of all of this, PTI government has failed to give an explanation over the Rs250b oil smuggling from Iran. During PPP’s tenure, crude oil was +$140, yet the situation was nowhere close to what it is now. Despite a historical dip in intl. oil prices, the PTI govt has increased petrol prices by 2.5-4.6% for the third time in 31 days. How can the government justify all this? Keeping all this in mind, are the government employees not right in asking for a pay increase?” she questioned.

She said, “In 2018, there were 31.3% Pakistanis living below the poverty line. Over the past 29 months, the percentage of Pakistanis living below the poverty line has gone up to 40%. Pakistanis living below the line of poverty have gone up from 69 million in 2018 to 87 million. Does the government have an action plan to counter this or they are only focusing on the opposition witch hunt?”

Vice President PPPP Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by saying, “People are struggling to make ends meet. The pandemic has made things more difficult and instead of providing relief, this government is torturing people who are peacefully protesting for their pay rise. We strongly condemn this behaviour by the government as this chaos will result in a serious civil unrest”.