N.As to get over Rs5.88bn in budget

Weekly Bang-e-sahar Saturday May 24—-30,2008
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The federal government has decided to allocate over Rs5.88 billion for the Northern Areas in the national budget 2008-09 against the recommendation of the local administration for a sum of Rs6 billion. The budget also envisages allocation of Rs5.3 million for the Khunjerab National Park management plan. A plan to construct a 200-bed hospital in Chilas has, however, not been included in the budget estimation. The fate of the project would be decided by the coordination committee for annual development which was scheduled to meet in Islamabad on May 23. The chief executive of the Northern Areas Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan and other representatives would present recommendations for the budget of the region in the meeting. Sources said the local administration had suggested to increase the annual development budget from Rs4.54 billion to Rs6 billion. Out of this amount, Rs5 billion would be spent on the ongoing development projects while the remaining Rs1 billion would go to new uplift schemes in the region. It is leant that at present 997 projects are underway in Gilgit-Baltistan which would be completed within the stipulated time if the required funds were made available. It was further pointed out that Wapda power development program provided funds for power projects in all parts of the country but Gilgit-Baltistan was not linked to the national grid. Under the power policy, projects up to five megawatts are included in annual development plan of the region. Therefore, the budget proposals have sought an additional amount of Rs5 million for the purpose. There are also 213 projects including construction of RCC bridges and metalled roads underway in the communication sector of the region. Additional funds are also required to complete all these projects. It may be noted here that federal minister for Kashmir affairs and Northern Areas Qamaruz Zaman Kaira during his oath-taking as chairman of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly had announced to allocate Rs6 billion for the development of the region. However, the Finance Division has hinted at allocating over Rs5.88 billion. It may be noted here that the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly has still no powers to prepare budget for the region.


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