Islamabad, Feb 9 (IANS) A parliamentary panel has decided to begin construction of luxury suites for Pakistani MPs at a whopping cost of Rs.3 billion, despite an opposition leader objecting to the project as the country was facing a financial crunch.
The Joint parliamentary committee for Housing and Library Tuesday directed that construction should start on the suites costing Rs.3 billion (about $35 million), Daily Times reported Wednesday.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had announced the extension of parliament lodges project a couple of weeks back.
The project includes construction of 106 additional family suites along with 500 servant quarters and an underground tunnel for parliamentarians’ passage from their lodges to parliament house.
Opposition leader Nisar Ali Khan strongly opposed the mega-project, saying there was no need to construct such type of expensive residences while Pakistan was facing a financial crunch.
Sources told the daily that Senate members were facing accommodation problem in parliament lodges.
Saira Tarar, a member of the joint parliamentary panel, opposed it.
“It is not the right time to spend billion of rupees on construction of luxurious suites, despite knowing that the country has been badly suffering because of declining economy and high inflation rate,” she was quoted as saying.
In December last year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a warning to Pakistan to take immediate measures to cut its spiralling budget deficit
Pakistan is under the burden of more than $53 billion foreign debt despite the repayment of over $6 billion in the last three years, Minister of State for Finance Hina Rabbani Khar had said.
The IMF withheld $3.5 billion in 2010 from its total $11.3 billion loan package for Pakistan.
Only two million Pakistanis out of a population of 180 million pay taxes.
Pakistan’s $167 billion economy is falling behind other countries in the region. Growth is forecast by the government at 2.5 percent in the fiscal year through June 2011.