MUZAFFARABAD            -         Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly (LA) on Tuesday approved Rs 139.5 budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 with a development outlay of Rs 24.5 billion after debate concluded.

Minister for Health and Finance Dr Najeeb Naqi presented the demands for grant for coming fiscal year and revised estimates for fiscal year ended on June 30 in the LA session conducted following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) regarding COVID–19.

The total income for the fiscal year 2020-21 had been estimated Rs 115 billion compared to the last fiscal year’s estimate of Rs 97 billion which shrunk to Rs 94 billion in the revised estimates.

The current expenditures for the new fiscal year were estimated Rs 115 billion same as estimates of income and the development expenditures of Rs 24.5 would be provided from the federal government in the form of grants.

The government itself would collect Rs 28.5 billion out of which Rs 20.6 billion in the head of income tax and Rs 7.9 billion in the head of other taxes and share from FBR taxes was estimated Rs 70 billion, Rs. 19.9 billion were estimated from the state revenue and Rs 670 million in the head of water use charges from the federal government.

A huge amount of Rs 28.88 billion had been allocated for education department; Rs 22 billion had been allocated for the payment of pension to retired employees, Rs 10 billion had been allocated for health department, an amount of Rs 16.524 billion had been allocated in the head of miscellaneous expenditures (grants) while Rs 8.762 billion had been allocated for electricity department.

In the development expenditures, the biggest amount of Rs 10.2 billion had been allocated for roads and communication network, more than Rs 2.57 for education, Rs 2.795 for local government and rural development, Rs 2.155 billion for housing and physical planning, Rs 1.7 billion for power development and one billion rupees for development schemes of the health department.

The finance minister in his concluding speech said that 72 percent development funds in the coming fiscal year budget had been allocated for ongoing development schemes and 28 percent were allocated for new development schemes and claimed that 119 schemes had been completed during the last fiscal year and a target of the completion of 190 ongoing schemes had been fixed in the new budget.

He said in the development budget, 72 percent funds had been allocated for infrastructure development, 9 % for social sectors and 19 percent for growth related sectors and informed the house that federal Ministry of Kashmir affairs would also spend Rs 2.92 billion on ongoing development schemes in the region during this fiscal year.

Dr Naqi further said that in addition to this development portray, a scheme worth Rs 3.64 billion had also been added in federal government’s annual development program for the rehabilitation of the people affected by Indian firing on Line of Control (LOC).

Giving the breakthrough of development schemes to be implemented during this fiscal year, he said second phase of divisional headquarter hospital in Mirpur comprising 500 beds and a general hospital in Rawalakot comprising 200 beds would be completed.

He said Tehsil headquarter hospital at Pathika (Naseerbad) would also be completed during the fiscal year besides construction of a hostel for doctors and nurses in Haveeli district, Tehsil headquarter hospitals comprising 30 beds at Leepa and Sharda, a cardiac hospital in Muzaffarabad and a cardiac center alongside district headquarter hospital Bagh.

The finance minister further said that reconditioning of 640 kilometers roads in region including those linking the territory with Pakistan was underway during the last fiscal year and would be completed during this fiscal year.

He said during the last fiscal years, 1450 kilometers links roads had been constructed or reconditioned while 725 kilometers more link roads in the rural areas would be constructed or reconditioned during this fiscal year while feasibility of a highway linking all south and east region was also part of this fiscal year development budget.

He said for ensuring the availability of basic amenities to the people in the rural areas, community infrastructure program would continue to be implemented during the fiscal year besides electrification schemes while 3 power generation schemes of 4.1 megawatt had been completed during the last fiscal year and work on projects of 127 megawatt would continue during the new fiscal year.