GB chief minister slams federal govt for 'slashing region's development budget by half'

Published June 12, 2022
Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan addressing a press conference alongside PTI's Murad Saeed and Ali Amin Gandapur. — DawnNewsTV
Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan addressing a press conference alongside PTI's Murad Saeed and Ali Amin Gandapur. — DawnNewsTV

Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan on Sunday accused the PML-N-led government of "deliberately" slashing the development portfolio of the region by almost half in the budget for 2022-23, claiming that this was done "under an agenda to push the region backward".

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside PTI's Murad Saeed and Ali Amin Gandapur, Khurshid Khan said the incumbent government had slashed the development budget of the region by 50 per cent to Rs23 billion.

The PTI-led federal government, Khurshid Khan said, had given his government Rs32bn under the recurrent head and another Rs15bn was also added to it as an additional grant, taking the total to Rs47bn.

The GB chief minister said his government was in a position to meet salary and other expenses with Rs47bn. "But currently we do not have the resources to meet disaster relief management, building human capacity, or poverty alleviation."

He went on to say that GB's allocations had reached billions of rupees for the first time when the Imran Khan-led government took charge. Previously, the PSDP's portfolio was Rs2bn which Imran raised to Rs10bn, he added.

Khurshid Khan said that in last year's budget "our local ADP [annual development programme] stood at Rs18 billion and the PSDP also amounted to Rs18bn, totalling Rs36bn."

He said the PTI government made an announcement of a development package which was set at Rs18bn in the first stage and "our average was to be Rs55bn annually."

Rebuking the current government, he said the budget "deliberately" curtailed the development portfolio of GB by 50 per cent.

He recalled that Nawaz Sharif had increased the region's development portfolio to Rs2bn which used to be in millions before that.

When Imran Khan took over, he had for the first time allocated Rs400bn for Gilgit to make it a hotspot for tourists, according to Khurshid Khan. That package had now been "sabotaged" and some six to seven important projects which were in an advanced planning phase had also been shelved, he alleged.

"Last time, Imran had moved ahead with interim constitutional rights for GB and we had calculated our share of the NFC, which amounted to Rs137bn. But a province that should get over Rs130bn is now seeing a deduction of over 50pc from what it was already receiving," the chief minister claimed.

He said GB was also facing extreme power deficiency, adding that the government could only provide electricity for two hours to Skardu on a daily basis. "The entire country is getting electricity, except our region, because we are not part of the national grid."

He said GB was catering to 70pc of the water needs of the entire country, adding that Imran Khan had given a power project of 200 megawatts to GB for the first time in 70 years "but then his government was toppled".

He told journalists that not a single recruitment had taken place in police since 2005 "despite the region being a sensitive area".

He said the price of wheat had increased in the local market, adding the GB might face a shortfall of 0.4 million wheat sacks.

The chief minister said similar treatment was meted out to Kashmir as well. This "imported government" is on a mission to undo all development initiatives of the past, he claimed.

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