GB presents Rs119bn budget amid funding crisis

Published June 28, 2022
Gilgit Baltistan Finance Minister Javed Manwa presents the budget. — APP
Gilgit Baltistan Finance Minister Javed Manwa presents the budget. — APP

GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan government on Monday presented the budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 with a total outlay of Rs119.3 billion. The annual budget was presented in the Gilgit Baltistan Assembly.

Finance minister Javed Ali Manwa presented the budget during a special session chaired by Deputy Speaker Nazir Ahmed Advocate.

Presenting the budget, Mr Manwa said Rs61.4 billion had been proposed for ongoing expenditures while Rs47.8 billion had been set aside for new development schemes.

Interestingly, opposition parties’ members, including from Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl remained calm during the budget speech.

Deputy Speaker Nazir Ahmed Advocate in his remarks thanked all the parties for respecting the democratic values and patiently listening to the budget speech.

The finance minister announced 15 per cent increase in salaries of government employees and fixed Rs25,000 as minimum wage for contingent employees.

The minister said Rs10 billion had been proposed for wheat subsidy, Rs2.25 billion for education and Rs1.20 billion for health. He said Rs5.39 billion had been allocated for works department and Rs3.5 billion for power sector.

He added that Rs174.8 million had been allocated for forests and wildlife, Rs121.7 million for minerals, Rs49.8 million for food and Rs288.5 million for tourism development.

He said purchase of vehicles for government departments, creation of new jobs, foreign trips of government functionaries, and official functions in expensive hotels had been banned.

Finance minister Javed Manwa said the Gilgit-Baltistan government did not have its own revenue generation sources and depended on the funds provided by the federal government.

However, he said unfortunately the federal government didn’t increase grants for GB for next fiscal year. “If the central government did not increase the grants the GB government will face financial crisis,” he said, adding the regional government could not impose any direct tax.

However, the finance minister said the GB government had decided to increase non-tax revenues through increasing electricity tariff, legalising rents of government rest houses, increasing fees of route permits and their renewal, and taxing the non-custom paid vehicles.

He said it had also been proposed to increase fees on adventure tourism through making registration of hotels, restaurants and camping sites mandatory.

Javed Manwa said it was also proposed to impose ‘bed tax’ on foreign tourists. It was also proposed to increase fees of trophy hunting permits and trout fishing in rivers and lakes.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2022

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