MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly on Thursday approved the budget for 2017-18 amounting to Rs94.41 billion in the absence of the 11-member opposition.

The deficit budget includes an allocation of Rs71.13bn for non-development expenditures and Rs23.28bn for the Annual Development Programme (ADP).

Towards the end of the session, Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi presented de­mands for grant one by one, which were approved by the house.

No cut motion was submitted as the opposition had already staged a walkout while expressing reservations over a map allegedly released by the Chinese government.

Opposition lawmaker Sardar Khalid Ibrahim, who had raised this issue in the house three days ago, said that since the response of the AJK government to the concerns of the opposition was “far from satisfactory,” there was no point in attending the house, “even though the opposition wanted to support the government in its good deeds”.

Afterwards, all present members of the 11-member opposition moved out of the hall.

Earlier, winding up budget debate, Finance Minister Naqi said that the PML-N government had the privilege of presenting a budget of record amount.

Expressing regrets over criticism of budget by the opposition, he said all allocations had been made “judiciously” in keeping with the requirements and capacity of the sectors concerned.

“Our foremost priority was infrastructure development and that’s why communications and works sector was given 39 per cent of development budget, followed by hydropower generation and local government and rural sectors,” he said.

The government would improve existing roads under the special directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif because better roads brought speedy development in the areas concerned, he said.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2017

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