Khizar Hayat Abbasi;
MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday presented 2018-19 budget with a historic outlay of Rs108.2 billion. Finance Minister Dr. Najeeb Naqi presented the budget in the house chaired by Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir.
With Rs25.2 billion allocation for development, the budget proposals shows marked 2.3 billion increase in development budget against Rs23.28 billion in the fiscal year 2017-18.
The government proposed Rs 82.70 billion for non development expenditures that include to meet the increase in the salaries of government employees and raise in the pension of retired employees.
The finance minister announced 10 percent increase in the basic salaries of government employees and fifty percent increase in their house rent while retired employees or families will get 10 percent raise in the pension.
The budget document shows that Rs 53.37 will separately be provided by federal government to execute different development projects being implemented by Kashmir Affairs Ministry and other ministries.
In his budget speech, Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi told the house that it is second historic budget unveiled by PML-N government since it came into power in 2016. The government, he said generously allocated funds for the development of Azad Jammu and Kashmir for which state government is especially thankful and indebted to PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
The finance minister said that government has set aside Rs82.70 billion for recurrent expenditure and 25.5 billion for the development projects. The development budget also contained 1.80 billion foreign aid, he said.
Unveiling the breakdown of the budget, the finance minister said key capital spending allocations in the budget 2018-19 include Rs 10. 38 billion for roads and communication, Rs 1.9 billion allocated to provide electricity to ninety thousands people of Azad Kashmir.
The Power Development Organization (PDO) will get Rs 2.43 billion, Physical Planning and Housing will get Rs 2.22 billion and Rehabilitation Department Rs 100 million.
The government, he said approved Rs 130 million for the relief and rehabilitation of the affectees of Indian firing, Rs 200 million for the Development Authorities, Rs two billion for Local government and rural development projects and 1.30 billion for Prime Minister’s Community Infrastructure Development Program.
The finance minister further said that Rs 280 million are proposed to be spent on ongoing projects being executed by ministry of Industries and Commerce, Rs 150 million allocated for AJK TEVTA, Rs 20 million for transport, Rs 200 million for the projects to be implemented by Youth and Culture Ministry, Rs 500 million for the agriculture department, Rs 550 million for the Forests, Wildlife and Fishries departments, Rs 60 million for the Environment Protection Agency.
The government, he said also proposed to allocate Rs 250 million for tourism related projects, Rs 40 million for Press Information Department, Rs 100 million for Social Welfare and Women Development Department. The Information Technology Board would be allowed to get Rs 230.50 million.
Rs1.95 billion will go education sector that include education department (elementary) Rs 1.35 billion and higher education Rs 600 million.
The finance minister Dr Najeeb Naqi also presented a revised budget for fiscal year 2017-18 with total outlay Rs 96,280.000 million. Shedding light on the estimated income during the next financial year, the minister told the house that Rs 21,400.000 million are expected to be generated from the state resources, Rs 1,100.000 million from the income of water use charges, around 80 percent share from the taxes being collected by Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council.
Giving detail of the revised budget 2017-18, the minister told the house that total outlay of the budget was 96,280.000. He said that Rs 12,800.000 million as share from the taxes collected by Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, Rs 1,100.000 million as water use charges, Rs 49,000.000 million from federal grant, Rs1,600.000 as overdraft adjustment. Earlier AJK cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan approved the revised budget 2017-18 and estimated budget 2018-19.