MUZAFFARABAD: The Legislative Assembly here on Sunday unanimously approved Rs108.2 billion budget for the fiscal year 2018-19.

Minister for Finance Dr Najeeb Naqi presented 32 demands for grant for the next year which were approved by the house. The budget was unveiled by the minister on Tuesday last and the house had started debate on it.

During the debate, the house witnessed fiery speeches delivered not only by almost all opposition members but also by one of the treasury members - Chaudhry Ismail Gujjar.

However, unlike Tuesday when the minister had faced relentless sloganeering by the opposition, the atmosphere on Sunday was cordial. It was presumably because the government had given some assurances to the opposition regarding their share in the development budget.

The minister informed the house that while earlier the AJK government would have to seek prior approval of the federal finance division for creation of posts and some other expenditures, the situation had changed after financial independence. Now the government can accord such approvals itself, he said.

He said when the PML-N government took over in July 2016, there were no funds even for timely payment of salaries as the previous government had allegedly utilised even the savings of different departments.

However, he said his government had laid special emphasis on better financial management which eventually enabled it to disburse salaries and pensions on time.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2018