MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Friday unveiled a revenue-oriented, tax-free budget with a total outlay of Rs73.5 billion for the fiscal year 2016-17.
Finance Minister Chaudhry Latif Akbar presented the budget in the Legislative Assembly. The government earmarked Rs12 billion for development while Rs61.5 billion would cover non-development expenditure.
AJK development budget up by 11%
The finance minister said the main chunk -- Rs4,499 million -- of the development budget will be spent on the communications and works department, Rs1,240 million would go to the electricity department, local government and rural development (Rs650 million) and education will get Rs1,270 million.
The agriculture sector will receive Rs357 million, civil defence (Rs50 million), five authorities -- Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Mirpur, Kotli and Rawalakot -- will get Rs650 million from the development budget. The health sector will get Rs410 million and tourism (Rs160 million).
The Environment Department would get Rs50 million, forestry and fisheries (Rs425 million), industries and minerals (Rs249 million), transport (Rs20 million), information and media development (Rs140 million), rehabilitation and resettlement (Rs60 million) and physical planning and housing (Rs930 million), social welfare and women development (Rs80 million).
Akbar said in FY2016-17, the sports department will get Rs140 million and information technology (Rs125 million) to meet their expenses.
The finance minister said Rs470 million would be received through foreign aid for some specific departments like education and health.
Rs50 billion earmarked for AJK development
Commenting on the budget, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz AJK chief Farooq Haider said the Peoples Party has failed to give a good budget. We reject this budget, he said.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Spokesman Abdul Majid Khan termed 90% decrease in the rehabilitation budget for Kashmiri refugees an attempt to sow the seeds of hatred against AJK among Kashmiri refugees who have been settled in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2016.
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