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MUZAFFARABAD: General debate on the budget for fiscal year 2017-18 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly continued on Sunday despite holiday as the house put the rule in abeyance to conclude it before June 23 when Eidul Fitr holidays will start.

The assembly met here at the lodging hall on second consecutive day with Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir in chair for general debate on the budget announced by the government on Thursday. Both treasury and opposition members participated in the debate.

Treasury member Pir Ali Shah Bukhari termed the budget balanced and people friendly, saying that it would solve people’s problem and boost development in the region.

He expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for taking keen interest in development of Azad Kashmir and said the prime minister paid 24 visits to Azad Kashmir during a short period which showed his attachment with the territory.

He said Mr Sharif was making sincere efforts for development and prosperity of Azad Kashmir and for resolving the long-standing Kashmir issue for which people of Jammu and Kashmir were grateful to him.

Mr Bukhari said the prime minister increased the AJK’s development budget by almost double in size which never happened in the past, adding that the increase in development budget would bring prosperity in the region in coming years.

Special adviser to AJK Prime Minister Sardar Khan Bhadar Khan while taking part in the debate termed the proposed budget a balanced one and congratulated Finance Minister Dr Muhammad Najeed Naqi Khan.

He urged the government to bring changes in Zakat system to benefit genuine needy people from Zakat funds and discourage misappropriation of the fund meant for welfare of poor down trodden class.

Opposition member and PTI leader Dewan Ghulam Mohiuddin while talking part in the debate appreciated the increase in development budget. He, however, urged the government to utilise development projects for the benefit of the general public without any discrimination. He stressed the need for placing an effective monitoring system on the spending of development budget and development projects for better result to attain the requisite objectives.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2017