Kashmir: AJK presents Rs 232bn budget, with Rs 42bn for development

Jammu & Kashmir POK - Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government on Wednesday unveiled its more than 232 billion rupees budget with a development outlay of 42 billion and a deficit of the same amount allocated for development expenditures.

Senior Minister allotted the portfolio of Finance last night, Col Waqar Noor presented the budget in the Legislative Assembly for the fiscal year 2023/24 after approval by the three member cabinet.

The Minister in his budget speech, said that the government was committed with the liberation struggle of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) besides achieving the development goals and well being of the people of AJK by setting a target to achieve 85 percent literacy rate in the region during the coming fiscal year which is at present 70 percent.

Noor also announced increase in the salaries of government employees and pensions of retired employees by following the formula of federal government in his budget speech. The minister said that the social and production sectors had been given priorities in the coming fiscal year budget by an allocation of 14 percent funds for the production sector compared to 11 percent of the current fiscal year budget and 31 percent for social sector compared to 25 percent of current fiscal year budget. He said funds for infrastructure development had been reduced to 55 percent in the coming fiscal year budget instead of 65 percent of current fiscal year budget allocation as his government believed that real progress was possible through investment on social and production sector.

Reiterating his government’s commitment towards financial and administrative discipline, the minister vowed that the wastage of public exchequer would be declared as a criminal offence and taxpayer’s money would be spent on the betterment of people rather luxurious lifestyle of the government office holders and bureaucracy.

He also announced to ensure fair use of public vehicles saying only entitled officers will use one vehicle for official use only and all other vehicles will be collected back from the offices to the transport pool for their disposal in the public interest. He said his government had enforced ban on the appointment in violation of rules in all departments and implementation of regulations shall be strictly ensured in appointments besides ensuring the punctuality of government officers and employees on their duties for which bio-metric systems were being installed in offices and institutions.

He said that the government was devolving powers at lower level office to ensure better dispensation to the people including the financial resources and budgets were being allocated at police station, primary school and dispensary level so that the functioning of basic units could be improved. Deploring the need of restructuring of the government institutions, he hinted that the government was intending to bring some rationalization in health and education institutions besides introducing E-governance and improvements in the working of the electricity department to save the wastage of public funds. He said in the proposed development budget for the next fiscal year, 60 percent funds had been allocated for 361 running development schemes while 40 percent had been allocated for newer schemes to be initiated during the coming fiscal year.

He informed the House that Rs. 14.5 billion had been allocated in the next fiscal year budget for road infrastructure which was 35.8 percent of the total development budget while 42 percent was allocated for this purpose in the current fiscal year budget.__Daily Times