Recession-hit UK gifts queen a big pay hike

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has another reason to be cheerful in her Diamond Jubilee year – her annual pay is about to jump by 20% to 36 million pounds. Her property holdings, the Crown Estate, posted a record profit of 240.2 million pounds, a net rise of 4% in the year largely due to strong tenant demand for its shops in the upmarket Regent Street and St.Jame’s districts of London. At a time when Britain is in recession and many families are feeling the pinch of higher household costs and taxes, the Queen’s allowance will rise to 36 million from 30 million pounds, the level at which it was frozen in October 2010 under new laws which peg her pay to the estate’s profits.

The 85-year-old queen celebrated her 60th year on the throne this month with a 1000-vessel flotilla on London’s river Thames and nationwide street parties. She has been paid by taxpayers through an allowance set by parliament and via other government grants since King George III ceded all property profits to the treasury in 1760. Under new laws that come into effect in 2013-2014, the Queen’s pay is 15% of the estate’s profits from two years prior.

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Arrest warrant issued against PPP’s PM pick

Within hours of his nomination as ruling PPP’s prime ministerial nominee, a court ordered the arrest of Makhdoom Shahabuddin for his alleged involvement in a drug import scam, scuttling his chances. It also seemed President Asif Ali Zardari, against whom the supreme court has repeatedly directed the Pakistan government to re-open corruption cases, is headed for a showdown with the judiciary, saying, effectively, that the new PM won’t be writing to Swiss authorities.

“The new PM will never start a trial against my slain wife,” a combative Zardari is learnt to have told his party MPs, referring to corruption cases against him and Benazir Bhutto. “I know how to deal with these challenges. Trust me and I will lead you out of the crisis,” he told PPP lawmakers. With Shahabuddin’s exit, two PPP members remain in the running: former minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, and Qamar Zaman Kaira. With court cases pending against Ashraf as well, it’s possible that former I&B minister Kaira alone will be left in the fray.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Sardar Mehtab Abbasi and rightwing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam(F)’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman too, filed their nomination papers. The parliament will now meet on Friday 5:30pm to elect the new PM. The Islamabad court also ordered the arrest of Ali Musa Gilani, in the multi-billion rupee ephedrine import case in which both the Makhdoom and Musa allegedly approved unauthorized drug quotas. Anti-Narcotic force (ANF) named Musa as one of the eight accused for alleged irregularities in the import of the chemical ephedrine, commonly known as “poor man’s cocaine”.

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