MIRPUR (AJK) - The Azad Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday presented 2018-19 budget with a historic outlay of Rs108.2 billion.

Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi presented the budget in the special budget session of Azad Jammu Kashmir Legislative Assembly which met in the state's capital city with Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir in the chair. With Rs25.2 billion allocation for development, the budget proposals show Rs2.3 billion increase in development budget against Rs23.28 billion in the fiscal year 2017-18.

The government proposed Rs82.70 billion for non development expenditures that include the increase in the salaries of government employees and raise in the pension of retired employees.

The finance minister announced 10 percent increase in the basic salaries of government employees and 50 percent increase in their house rent while retired employees or families will get 10 percent raise in the pensions.

The budget document shows that Rs53.37b will separately be provided by the federal government to execute different development projects being implemented by Kashmir affairs and other ministries.

The finance minister told the house that it was second historic budget unveiled by PML-N government since it came to power in 2016. The government, he said, generously allocated funds for the development of Azad Jammu and Kashmir for which the state government was especially thankful and indebted to PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

He said that government has set aside Rs82.70 billion for recurrent expenditure and 25.5 billion for the development projects.  The development budget also contained Rs1.80 billion foreign aid, he said.

Unveiling the breakdown of the budget, the finance minister said key capital spending allocations in the budget 2018-19 include Rs10.38 billion for roads and communication, Rs 1.9 billion allocated to provide electricity for 90,000 people of Azad Kashmir.

The Power Development Organization (PDO) will get Rs2.43 billion, Physical Planning and Housing Rs 2.22 billion and Rehabilitation Department Rs 100 million.

The government, he said, approved Rs130 million for the relief and rehabilitation of the affectees of Indian firing, Rs200 million for the Development Authorities, Rs2 billion for local government and rural development projects and Rs1.30 billion for Prime Minister's Community Infrastructure Development Program.

The finance minister further said that a Rs280 million was proposed to be spent on ongoing projects being executed by ministry of Industries and Commerce, Rs150 million for AJK TEVTA, Rs20 million for transport, Rs 200 million for the projects to be implemented by Youth and Culture Ministry, Rs500 million for the agriculture department, Rs550 million for the Forests, Wildlife and Fisheries departments and Rs60 million for the environment protection agency.

The government, he said, also proposed to allocate Rs250 million for tourism related projects, Rs40 million for Press Information Department, Rs100 million for Social Welfare and Women Development Department while the Information Technology Board would be allowed to get Rs230.50 million.

A Rs1.95 billion will be spent on education sector that include education department (elementary) Rs1.35 billion and higher education Rs600 million.

He also presented a revised budget for fiscal year 2017-18 with total outlay of Rs96,280.000 million. Shedding light on the estimated income during the next financial year, the minister told the house that Rs21,400.000 million are expected to be generated from the state resources, Rs1,100.000 million from the income of water use charges, around 80 percent share from the taxes being collected by Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council.

Giving detail of the revised budget 2017-18, the minister told the house that total outlay of the budget was 96,280.000. He said that Rs12,800.000 million as share from the taxes collected by Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, Rs1,100.000 million as water use charges, Rs49,000.000 million from federal grant, Rs1,600.000 as overdraft adjustment. Earlier AJK cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan approved the revised budget 2017-18 and estimated budget 2018-19.