KP Assembly passes ‘helicopter bill’ amid opposition protest

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The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday passed an “aircraft, helicopter bill” that allows its use by the functionaries of the government amid opposition protest and criticism.

The opposition tried its best to resist the passage of the bill and staged a protest in front of speaker dice demanding further discussion in the relevant standing committee.

Minister for Labour Shaukat Yousafzai moved the bill in the house with Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani in the chair. Inayatullah Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami said that the bill would allow everyone to use the aircraft, and helicopter at public expense like a ‘Raksha’, adding that the passing of such would have adverse effects in the future.

He said that the provincial government should discuss it with the law department and Advocate General. Ikhtiar Wali of PMLN said that the provincial government should pass the law for the welfare of the 40 million population of the province rather for PTI and their blue eyed. He said that the province was already indebted of Rs1,000 billion and the government intended not to be questioned about the illegal expenses of billions of rupees incurred on helicopters since 2008 at any stage now and in the future.

Parliamentary Leader of ANP Sardar Hussain Babak said that the opposition would request Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government to reconsider the bill and reject it as the opposition parties had severe reservations over it.

The piece of legislation named KP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022 was introduced in the House last week. Under the bill, the chief minister could hire an aircraft or helicopter from the open market or from Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force or Federal Government for official use, at public expenses.

Similarly, the proposed legislation empowers the chief minister to allow any minister, advisor or special assistant to chief minister, public servant or government servant to utilize the facility at public expense. “Any aircraft or helicopter of government, subject to availability and with the prior approval of the chief minister to be used for private purposes on payment of charges, at the rate determined by the government from time to time,” it further added.

“While using any aircraft or helicopter, the chief minister, minister, advisor or special assistant to chief minister, a public servant or government servant, can be accompanied by and fly along with his support staff, aides and all other individuals, which he would deem necessary for such air journey or excursion.”