AJK unveils record deficit budget

Published June 16, 2017
Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi assures the house that the increase in pay and pensions announced by the federal government will also be given to the government employees in AJK.
Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi assures the house that the increase in pay and pensions announced by the federal government will also be given to the government employees in AJK.

MUZAFFARABAD: The Pakistan Mus­lim League-Nawaz government in Azad Jam­mu and Kashmir (AJK) on Thursday unveiled a Rs94.41 billion budget for 2017-18, with a record deficit of Rs13bn.

The budget proposes Rs23.28bn, including a foreign aid of Rs1.8bn, for development works — almost 25 per cent of the total budget — and Rs71.13bn for the recurring expenditures.

The budget was presented in the Legislative Assembly by Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi after his senior cabinet colleague Chaudhry Tariq Farooq convinced the angry opposition in two rounds of negotiations to attend the session. Deputy Speaker Sardar Farooq Ahmed Tahir was in the chair.

According to the budget books, the federal finance division has set an income target of Rs62.4bn for AJK for the next fiscal and committed to providing Rs13bn as ‘grant-in-aid for revenue deficit’.

Over Rs71bn will be allocated for recurring expenditure

The proposed income includes Rs20.8bn from AJK’s internal resources; Rs1.3bn from Mangla dam water use charges; Rs14.3bn from AJK Council as 80pc share in direct taxes generated from AJK territory; and Rs26.5bn as share in the federal taxes.

Sources in the finance department told Dawn that since the income targets fixed by the centre were “exaggerated,” AJK had reduced Rs4.27bn from the total amount of Rs62.4bn as “adjustment of overdraft” to keep the tally at Rs73.13bn.

Major allocations for the recurring (non-developmental) expenditures include Rs22.55bn for education, Rs11bn for pensions, Rs6.56bn for electricity, Rs6.62bn for health, Rs3.32bn for communication and works, Rs2.32bn for general administration, Rs1.5bn for subsidy on wheat flour, Rs1.29bn for administration of justice, and Rs4.59bn for miscellaneous grants.

Of the Rs23.28bn development budget, Rs15.72bn (68pc) will go to infrastructure development, Rs4.12bn (18pc) to productive sector and Rs3.36bn (14pc) to social sector.

Major allocations in development budget include Rs9bn to communications and works, Rs2.43bn to hydropower development, Rs2bn to local government and rural development, Rs1.52bn to physical planning and housing, Rs1.27bn to education, Rs1.09bn to electricity, Rs1.89bn to foreign aided projects, Rs769 million to health, Rs550m to forests/fisheries/wildlife, Rs490m to agriculture/livestock, Rs380m to industries/minerals, Rs265m to information technology/media development, Rs250m to tourism, Rs200m to sports, Rs174m to research and development, Rs135m to development authorities, Rs100 million each to civil defence, social welfare & women development and rehabilitation/settlement, Rs60m to environment and Rs20m to transport.

The finance minister said that 68pc funds had been reserved for timely completion of the ongoing projects and the remaining 32pc for new projects.

The government had fixed a target of 154 projects to be completed in next fiscal year, he said.

Apart from the Rs23.28bn development budget, the federal government had additionally earmarked over Rs30bn in its Public Sector Development Pro­gramme to be spent by different ministries in AJK during the next fiscal year, he said.

The minister assured the house that the increase in pay and pensions announced by the federal government would also be given to the government employees in AJK from the same date and ratio.

Replicating the last year’s budget speech by his predecessor form PPP government, the finance minister said that there was a proposal (in finance bill) to raise prevailing taxes and stamps act to increase income.

Earlier, the minister also presented Rs76.051bn revised budget for the current year, as against the initially approved budget of Rs73.5bn.

Prior to the session, the AJK cabinet held a meeting to accord approval to budget for the next fiscal year and supplementary budget for the current fiscal year.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2017

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