MIRPUR (AJK) - The AJK government has presented Rs94.41 billion tax-free budget for the fiscal year 2017-18 in the Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly here on Thursday.

Deputy Speaker Sardar Farooq Ahmed Tahir chaired the budget session. Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi announced the budget. The minister said that despite challenges, a balanced budget has been presented. He said a huge amount of over Rs22 billion had been proposed for the next fiscal year’s Annual Development Programme.

He said due to the government’s successful economic measures and financial discipline, the AJK economy was on right direction. He said that under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), various power generation and infrastructure projects were also being completed speedily in AJK. It’s the first time in the history of AJK that there is Rs10 billion raise in the AJK development budget for next year and the next year’s State Budget includes current expenditures worth Rs71.13 billion.

The minister said that there will be 10 percent raise in the salaries and pensions of AJK Government employees in next fiscal year, while the minimum monthly wages of laborers and industrial workers will be now Rs15,000.

He said Rs71,130.000 million has been proposed in the finance bill for recurring expenditure which includes Rs2,328.050m for general administration, Rs794.653m for Board of Revenue, Rs16.000m for stamps, Rs27.075m for Land Record & Settlement, Rs741.710m for relief & rehabilitation, Rs11,000.000m for pensions, Rs125.850m for public relations, Rs1291.980m for administration of justice, Rs4897.830m for police, Rs173.540m for jails, Rs120.540m for civil defence, and Rs61.350m for armed service board.

Likewise, a sum of Rs3320.760 million was sanctioned for communication and works, Rs22551 for education.418, Rs6626.105 for health, Rs69.140 for sports, youth culture & transport, Rs269.770 for social welfare & women affairs, RS655.090 for agriculture, RS633.300 for animal husbandry, Rs211.219 for food, RS1500.000 for state trading, Rs861.540 for forests and Rs58.820 for cooperative.

For the electricity, the government allocated Rs6563.600 million, local government & rural development Rs492.550, industries, labour & mineral resources Rs127.080, printing press Rs55.860, sericulture Rs80.280, tourism, wildlife & fisheries Rs141.864, miscellaneous (grants) Rs4590.186, and capital expenditure Rs600.000. An income of Rs 71,130.000 has been expected from various departments and resources  which include provincial taxes Rs6300.140, land record and settlement Rs99.090, stamps Rs220.290, aj&k transport authority Rs25.000, and armed service board Rs15.000 million.

It allocated for the administration of justice Rs152.910 million, home (police) Rs62.010, jails Rs0.180, communication & works Rs217.660, education Rs155.010, health Rs343.140, agriculture Rs5.110, wild life/ fisheries Rs26.750, animal husbandry Rs30.000, forests Rs312.750, electricity Rs12, printing press Rs52.000, industries & labour Rs65.000, sericulture Rs3.280, minerals Rs5.000, tourism Rs19.920, religious affairs Rs40.870, miscellaneous Rs541.570, income from Kashmir Council Rs14,300.000, share of federal taxes Rs26,000.000, grant-in-aid for revenue deficit Rs13,000.000, water usage charges mangla1 Rs300.000, adjustment overdraft Rs-4270.000. An amount of Rs21,480.000 million has been allocated for  development sector which is doubled as compare to last fiscal year.

The finance minister declared it as a big achievement of the present government. While giving the details of the development expenditure, he stated that for agriculture/livestock Rs490.000 million has been sanctioned while for Civil Defence Rs100.000, development authorities Rs135.000, education Rs1700.000, environment Rs60.000, foreign aided projects Rs 1897.000, forestry, fisheries, wildlife Rs 550.000, health Rs 769.000, industries & minerals Rs 380.000, transport Rs 20.000, information & media development Rs 40.000, information technology Rs 225.000, local government & rural development Rs 2005.000, physical planning & housing Rs 1525.000, power Rs 3520.000, research and development Rs 174.000, social welfare & women development Rs 100.000, rehabilitation & resettlement Rs 100.000, sports, youth & culture Rs 200.000, tourism Rs 250.000, communication & works Rs 9040.000 and for foreign aid Rs 1800.000 has been allocated.

Earlier, the AJK cabinet met with Prime Minster Raja Farooq Haider Khan in the chair. The cabinet accorded approval of the budget Rs91.41 billion for the next fiscal year 2017-18 and revised budget Rs76.51250 billion for fiscal year 2016-17.