Gilgit -With a total outlay of Rs62.9577 billion, budget for the next fiscal year 2019-20 was presented in the GB Legislative Assembly on Thursday. An amount of Rs37.7127 billion has been allocated for non-development and Rs17.40 billion for development projects. An amount Rs7 billion has been earmarked for wheat subsidy in the budget. Amid uproar and protest by opposition parties in Gilgit Baltistan Assembly, GB Finance Minister Haji Akbar Taban presented budget in the assembly.

During his speech, Senior Minister Akbar Taban said special emphasis had been laid upon education and health departments in budget and one billion rupees were allocated for an endowment fund which would be used on treatment of poor patients. According to the minister, increase of 55 and 51 per cent had been made in budgets of works and energy departments, respectively, which was unprecedented in history of the province. At least seven mega energy projects were included in budget that after completion would make GB loadshedding-free. He said majority of development budget of the ongoing fiscal year had been utilised while 100 percent would be spent by the end of current month.

The budget for social sector was also jacked up by 21 percent. Special allocation was made for thermal, wind and solar energy. As per budget proposals, more powers were being given to SDOs and XENs to expedite works on development projects, besides ensuring standard and quality of construction works.

Earlier, Gilgit-Baltistan cabinet met in Gilgit on Thursday with Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman in chair. The cabinet approved Rs62.96billion budget proposals.

Speaking on the occasion, Gilgit-Baltistan chief minister said the new budget focused on improvement of health and education sectors. Hafeezur Rehman said it was a balanced budget which was also growth-oriented and people-friendly. Shafi Khan, opposition leader in the GB Assembly, said financial year 2019-20 budget was not fair one. The constituencies of opposition lawmakers had been ignored in the fiscal budget.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Shafi Khan said, “We will suggest equal distribution of funds in budget proposals.”