Budget 2020-21: No new tax in Rs139.5bn AJK budget

Published June 19, 2020
MUZAFFARABAD: AJK Minister for Finance Dr Najeeb Naqi presenting budget for 2020-21 in the assembly on Thursday. PM Raja Farooq Haider (extreme left) is also seen. Photo by author
MUZAFFARABAD: AJK Minister for Finance Dr Najeeb Naqi presenting budget for 2020-21 in the assembly on Thursday. PM Raja Farooq Haider (extreme left) is also seen. Photo by author

MUZAFFARABAD: With a record outlay of Rs139.5 billion, the annual budget of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) for the fiscal year 2020-21 proposes Rs115bn for recurring expenditures and Rs24.5bn for developmental activities.

Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi, who presented the budget in the AJK Legislative Assembly here on Thursday, claimed that it “reflected and represented the priorities of government and the aspirations of people”.

Unlike last year, when Mr Naqi’s budget speech was marred by unrelenting protest and commotion by the opposition, Thursday’s session remained peaceful by and large, after two out of four opposition lawmakers staged a walkout for not being allowed to speak on a point of order.

However, their remaining two colleagues did not leave and attended the entire session, without disturbance. The strength of the combined opposition in the 49-member house is 12.

Rs115bn set aside for recurring expenditures, Rs24.5bn for development activities; revenue generation target set at Rs119.61bn

On the treasury benches, there were hardly 23 lawmakers, including Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider. Senior minister Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, opposition leader Chaudhry Mohammad Yasin and former premiers Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan and Barrister Sultan Mahmood were among the prominent absentees.

The finance minister told the house that the government of Pakistan had allocated Rs24.5bn for AJK’s annual development programme (ADP) for the next fiscal year, including a foreign aid of Rs2.5bn. Additionally, the federal government had included a Rs3.64bn scheme in its Public Sector Development Programme for rehabilitation of the population affected by the Indian shelling along the Line of Control, he said, adding that the Centre had also provided Rs2.924bn to the Kashmir affairs ministry for its ongoing projects in AJK.

Mr Naqi said 72 per cent of the ADP funds had been earmarked for timely completion of 199 ongoing projects in the next fiscal year, while the remaining 28pc reserved for 190 new initiatives. The infrastructure development sector will get 72pc funds, while productive and social sectors will receive 19pc and 9pc, respectively, he added.

Giving details of department-wise allocations, the finance minister said the highest allocation of Rs10.2bn had been proposed for communications and works (C&W), followed by Rs2.795bn for local government and rural development (LG&RD), Rs2.578bn for education, Rs2.155bn for physical planning and housing, Rs1.7bn for electricity, Rs1.121bn for foreign-aided projects, Rs1bn for health, Rs528 million for industries/minerals, Rs440m for forests, wildlife and fisheries, Rs382m for agriculture and livestock, Rs268m for research and development, Rs235m for information technology, Rs245m for development authorities, Rs220m for sports, youth and culture, Rs200m for tourism, Rs150m for social welfare and women development, Rs100m for rehabilitation and resettlement, Rs95m for civil defence, Rs70m for environment, Rs37m for information and media development and Rs20m for transport.

Mr Naqi said the government expected to generate Rs119.61bn revenue from different sectors and heads during the next fiscal year, of which Rs4.61bn would be utilised for overdraft adjustment. He said Rs20.6bn would be generated from income tax, Rs7.9bn from other [provincial] taxes, Rs70bn as federal grant in lieu of FBR taxes, Rs19.9bn from internal resources, such as electricity, forests, stamp duty, communication and works, Rs700m from water use charges and Rs540m from capital receipts (loan and advances).

Speaking about the recurring budget, he said the highest amount of Rs28.88bn would go to the education sector, followed by Rs22bn to pensions, Rs16.524bn to miscellaneous (grants), Rs10.272bn to health services, Rs8.762bn to electricity, Rs6.56bn to home (police), Rs5.073bn to general administration, Rs3.869bn to C&W, Rs2.027bn to “State Trading” (subsidy on wheat and wheat flour), Rs1.78bn to administration of justice, Rs1.184bn to forests, Rs1.053bn to relief and rehabilitation, Rs1.024bn to the Board of Revenue, Rs805m to agriculture, Rs734m to animal husbandry, Rs627m to LG&RD, Rs532.8m to social welfare and women development, Rs267.8m to food, Rs229m to civil defence, Rs189.4m to tourism, Rs170m to public relations, Rs156.8m to industries, labour and mineral resources, Rs131.8m to religious affairs, etc.

While no new local tax was proposed, there was no mention of any increase in salary and pension of serving and retired government servants either in the minister’s speech.

Earlier, Mr Naqi also presented revised budget of the current year for approval, showing a reduction from Rs121.56bn to Rs118.7bn.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2020

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