AJK govt unveils Rs141b tax-free budget


MUZAFFARABAD:

The Azad Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday presented tax-free budget for financial year 2021-22 at the AJK State Legislative Assembly.

The budget provides the development outlay to the tune of Rs28 billion which shows 14 per cent increase against the current financial year allocations while non-development expenditure has been estimated to Rs113 billion.

Presenting the budget in the house, AJK Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi said next financial year’s budget had been prepared after complete planning to project maximum resources for the development of the state.

He said 66 per cent of the developmental budget would be spent for the completion of 176 uplift projects, while the work on 209 new development projects would also start during the upcoming financial year.

He announced 10 per cent adhoc relief in pay and pensions of the employees, while twenty-five per cent disparity reductions allowance had also been proposed in the budget.

Explaining the strategy of the development budget, the region’s financial minister said top priority had been given to the communication sector with an allocation of Rs10 billion which was 36 per cent of the total development budget earmarked for the next financial year.

Under this sector, the road infrastructure will be further improved besides completion of ongoing uplift projects.

Naqi said the power sector would receive Rs2 billion in funds under which more than 200 electricity transformers would be installed.

The government has planned to provide 18,000 new service connections to consumers, while it will also set up new grid stations in different parts of the state to provide uninterrupted power supply to people.

The minister said the government was giving special importance to utilise water resources to produce cheap electricity in the state.

“To achieve the objective, the government has completed work on 23 hydel power projects and produced electricity amounting to Rs1 billion,” said the region’s finance minister, adding the government would initiate work on new hydel power projects across AJK in the upcoming financial year 2021-22 with the cost of Rs800 million.

The government has allocated Rs3.2 billion for education sector, while the health sector will receive Rs1.75 billion during the upcoming fiscal year, Naqi said.

He added the AJK government also reserved funds amounting to Rs200 million to combat the coronavirus in the state.

In the upcoming budget, the government had set aside Rs720 million for the completion of foreign aided projects and Rs400 million for tourism sector to boost the activities in the state.

The region’s finance minister said the social sector would receive 22 per cent, the productive sector 10 per cent and the infrastructure sector 68 per cent from the financial resources during the next financial year.

He said the Physical Planning and Housing sector will get Rs4.8 billion, while Rs1.7 billion had been earmarked for Local Government and rural development sector for the next financial year.

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