Budget making: minister backs out of his words on empowering legislators

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Satuarday, August 2—–August 2008

By A Correspondent
GILGIT: Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Qamar Zaman Kaira, who is also chairman of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly, has backed out of his words given on the floor of the house that from now onwards budget of the region would be prepared by the legislators.“I assure you, the lawmakers, that you would prepare the budget of the next financial year. We want political empowerment in the region,” he had held out the assurance in the legislative assembly after taking oath as chairman of the office.However, the Finance Department released non-development budget without getting even approval of the house. “We have released a Rs5 billion non-developmental budget and as far as the single entry budget promise of the federal government is concerned it is brought in the pink book,” Secretary Finance Syed Mutahir Shah said.He said it was a technical matter and this time round it was not possible to present the budget in the assembly. On the other hand, the Northern Areas Executive Development Committee is expected to meet on Thursday, as the Planning and Development Department of Gilgit-Baltistan is making arrangements to hold a meeting with the federal minister in the chair, official sources said.The meeting would finalise Annual Development Plan and Chairman Northern Areas Qamar Zaman Kaira would approve the ADP of current year which would be conveyed to the Finance Division to get uplift funds of first quarter of the financial year, added the sources. “We have drafted the Annual Development Plan that would be approved by the federal minister. It has nothing to do with the lawmakers of Northern Areas Legislative Assembly,” a senior official of the Planning and Development Department said.However, Northern Areas Good Governance Order 1994 (NAGO) announced by President Pervez Musharraf last year, which replaced the Legal Framework Order, also ensured participation and approval of lawmakers in the budget making process.NAGO 1994’s Article 17-D sheds light on the matter of budget approval and says: “Annual budget allocated ‘shall’ be presented before the assembly in the form of a statement.” Resentment among the members of legislative assembly is mounting day by day and there is a likelihood of strong agitation if the issue is not resolved amicably.Another announcement made by the minister in regard to the functioning of Public Accounts Committee has also not been implemented. And the third promise was related to the approval of Rules of Procedure and Business of NALA that is also pending.


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