Pakistan-occupied Kashmir government on Saturday presented a new budget of Rs 163.7 billion for the next fiscal year of 2022-23 in the legislative assembly amid a boycott by the combined opposition.
In the budget, the PoK government allocated Rs 28.5 billion for the development and Rs 135.2 billion for recurring expenses, Dawn reported.
The session presided over by PoK Deputy Speaker Chaudhry Riaz Gujjar, started three hours later than the scheduled time as the opposition had announced a boycott.
PoK Finance Minister Abdul Majid Khan, in the budget speech, said, "The government was committed to implementing the apex court judgement and giving the opposition its due share, but some opposition members wanted to derail the system."
"PTI government was presenting its first budget in an atmosphere when Pakistan was grappling with an acute financial crisis. An unusual cut in the PoK's 3.64 per cent share in the federal taxes pool (variable grant), under a 2018 financial agreement, was an inappropriate move that had made it difficult for the region to smoothly run its affairs," the Dawn quoted Khan as saying.
He lamented that the PoK government estimated to generate Rs 36.5 billion from the inland revenue department, Rs 74.32 billion as a 3.64 per cent share in the variable grant, Rs 25.13 billion from internal resources, Rs 700 million each from water use charges and capital receipts (loans and advances).
An amount of Rs 2.15 billion of the income had been spared for overdraft adjustment, while the rest for the recurring expense, he added.
Khan said that the PoK government demanded Rs 40 billion from the Pakistan government for the Annual Development Programme (ADP). However, Islamabad announced to allocate Rs 26.5 billion, though it later raised it to Rs 28.5 billion, including a foreign aid component of Rs 500 million, the Dawn reported.
"Apparently, the volume of 2022-23 ADP was equivalent to that of the current year's, but, in effect, it was half of it when viewed against the backdrop of skyrocketing inflation and cuts in the current year's development budget," he added.
The PoK minister further said that the PTI government would make the best possible and the most transparent use of available resources to put its share in Azad Kashmir's development and progress, the Dawn reported.
"The government had also decided to fully engage the private sector in the development process and in this regard, a donor coordination committee comprising cabinet members was being constituted," Khan said.
Meanwhile, in the previous session, the opposition announced a boycott of proceedings over "unlawful amendments" to the assembly's rules of procedure as well as the "denial of an equal share of development funds" to them by the government despite an apex court judgement, the Dawn reported.
PoK ministerial team claimed that it agreed to the demands of the opposition but the latter did not show flexibility and staged a sit-in at the main entrance of the building of the house instead of attending the session. (ANI)