RAWALPINDI: After restoration of the local government on the directives of the Supreme Court, the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) on Tuesday approved a tax-free budget worth Rs3.8 billion for six months of the fiscal year 2021-22 with an allocation of Rs2.75bn for development schemes.

With Aye vote, two PTI members supported the PML-N majority house and gave approval to the budget without any objection and said they would support PML-N and Rawalpindi Mayor Sardar Naseem Khan for development of the garrison city without any condition and oppose any move of the PTI-led government in Punjab to curtail the elected house’s power.

In a rare show of unity, PTI and PPP members said they would support Mayor Sardar Naseem Khan if he would move the Supreme Court to get the tenure of the elected house extended as two-and-a-half years were wasted by the Punjab government when it suspended the local governments in the province.

The budget session was held at Jinnah Hall of the RMC with Deputy Mayor Chaudhry Tariq in the chair. Mayor Sardar Naseem presented the budget.

The total outlay of the budget is Rs3.8 bn out of which about Rs2.7bn had been allocated for development while Rs1.9bn for non-development expenditures.

Speaking in the house, Mayor Sardar Naseem said the initial balance for the next six months of the current financial year was Rs2.4bn and expected revenue was Rs1.7bn.

“For salaries and pension, Rs515 million had been allocated, Rs296.5m set aside for office expenditures, Rs55m for necessary expenditures and Rs35m for pension liabilities,” he said.

He said Rs350m was fixed for ongoing development schemes, Rs7m for Punjab Municipal Services Programme (PMSP) uplift schemes, Rs75m was transferred to District Council accounts as some ongoing schemes in 24 union councils were given back to it and Rs46m of PMSP was also given to the District Council.

“For the development of Rawalpindi’s 46 union councils, Rs2.2bn had been allocated - Rs10m each allocated for street light maintenance and patch work of roads respectively, Rs15m for repair and maintenance of buildings,” he said.

The mayor got permission of the house to purchase three to four funeral buses and for maintenance of existing graveyards.

“All the local bodies of Punjab established under the Local Government Act 2013 were abolished in May 2019 before the end of their term. On the orders of the Supreme Court, the institutions were restored after two and a half years. And, we are back in our House today,” Mr Naseem said, adding that in future no one would dare dissolve these local governments before their term expired.

Speaking on the occasion, the elected chairmen from PTI said restoration of Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation after two-and-a-half years was a very good step of the Supreme Court.

PTI member Azhar Iqbal Satti from UC-27 said although there were only two elected chairmen from the PTI platform in the RMC, they would support Mayor Sardar Naseem without any condition to do work for residents of Rawalpindi. PPP member Anjum Farooq Paracha also assured Mayor Sardar Naseem of his support for the betterment of the city and to file petition in courts to extend the tenure of the present local governments.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2021

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