MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) government on Friday announced a tax-free budget of Rs47.332 billion for the 2010-11 fiscal year. The budget has a deficit of over Rs17.6050 billion while a sum of Rs11.1749 billion has been allocated for annual development programs.
AJK Minister for finance Raja Nisar Ahmad Khan presented the budget in the AJK legislative assembly. The session was chaired by Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir.
The amount set aside for development projects has been increased by 10 per cent compared to last year’s allocation of Rs9.555 billion while a total sum of Rs22.9 billion is estimated to be earned as revenue receipts. The revenue includes a sum of Rs9.92 billion to be generated from the Kashmir Council, Mangla dam water usage charges of Rs750 million, share from AJK council taxes worth Rs4.5 billion, and share from federal taxes that are estimated to be Rs6.68 billion.
The finance minister also announced a 50% ad hoc increase in pensions and in the salaries of government employees and police officials. Ahmad announced to regularize 1,100 contractual employees during the fiscal year starting July 1 while no new posts have been announced in the budget.
In the non-development expenditures head, an amount of Rs7.594 billion has been allocated for the education sector, Rs5.30 billion for electricity department, Rs3.31 billion for miscellaneous expenditures, Rs2.5 billion for state trading, Rs1.82 billion for health, Rs1.17 billion for general administration, Rs1.6 billion for the payment of pension and Rs1.58 billion for the police department.
In the development budget, priority has been given to the transport and communication sector with an allocation of Rs4.18 billion for the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges. A sum of Rs1,500 million has been fixed for development projects in the power sector. Local government department will be given Rs1,000 million during the next fiscal year while Rs916 million has been allocated for the foreign funded projects. The education sector will get Rs800 million for its development schemes.
The minister also presented a revised budget estimate of Rs32.78 billion for the outgoing fiscal year, out of which Rs25.65 billion has been spent as non-development expenditures and Rs7.13 billion as development expenditures. The revised budget shows a deficit of Rs5.5 billion.
During his speech, the finance minister said that the AJK government’s share in the NFC awards has been reduced which has put the government in a financial crunch. “If we are provided net profit over the hydro-electric projects, a complete share of the federal taxes and Kashmir’s property, we might not need any grant in aid to bridge the gap between income and expenditures,” he claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2010.
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