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GB Council fails to approve budget even after 11 months

23 May 2017 No Comment

By GHULAM ABBAS in Pakistan Today, May 23, 2017
The government has not passed budget of the Gilgit Baltistan Council even after 11 months of this financial year to be closed on June 30.
The budget session could not be held in the absence of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif as chairman of the council despite scheduling the meeting repeatedly in Gilgit. After the first meeting, held on May 19, 2016, the council could not meet again under the prime minister.
“Every time when we scheduled the meeting we had to cancel it for unavailability of the chairman (the prime minister),” said an official at the council on anonymity. Interestingly, it was the budget session as well as the oath taking ceremony of new members when the premier had attended the last meeting in Gilgit in 2016.
The budget of 2015-16 was also passed on May 19, 2016, the official said. “The elected members cannot use the budget when it is passed almost one month before the closure of the financial year,” said Ataullah Shihab, a former council member. “It seems the council which is empowered to legislate in almost 53 subjects is practically dysfunctional for the last two years,” he said.
The government has also not bothered to appoint three members of the council as advisers to the prime minister despite legal binding as per the Gilgit Baltistan Self Governance Order-2009, he said. Though, the house has been very active during the government of the Pakistan People’s Party as it completed legislation on various subjects like tax, tourisms, forest etc, it has almost become dysfunctional in current scenario.
According to Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, Prime Minister Nawaz was scheduled to visit Skardu on May 24 to approve the much-delayed budget 2016-17 of the GB Council, however he again could not attend it for his visit to Saudi Arabia. “He (Nawaz) will now be visiting our region after the federal budget,” he said. In reply to a query, he said that the government has a mechanism to avoid laps of the development fund of the council.
According to him, a budget session was held in February this year with Governor Mir Ghazanfar Ali in the chair. During the session, Minister for Gilgit Baltistan and Kashmir Affairs Barjees Tahir had presented budget layout of Rs 1.521 million for the next financial year. In the financial year 2016-17, Rs 654 million will be spent on development projects while Rs 626 million has been allocated for non-development expenditure.
Out of the development budget, Rs 354 million would be given to six council members while Rs 200 million and Rs 100 million have been allocated for construction of the council secretariat in Gilgit and Islamabad respectively.
The budget session was attended by State Minister Tariq Fazil Chaudhry, National Assembly members Isfandyar Bhandara, Iftikhar Hassan, Khalid Hussain Magsi and Dr Darshan Lal and GB Council members Ashraf Sada, Arman Shah and Syed Afzal, Syed Abbas, Sultan Ali Khan and Wazir Akhlaq. However, the budget could not approve so far for unavailability of the prime minister.
It may recall here that the council has been established as per the Article 33 of the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment & Self-Governance) Order, 2009. Its chairman is the prime minister of Pakistan and Gilgit-Baltistan governor is the vice chairman. It can legislate on 53 subjects as provided in the Schedule III of the order.
The council consists of the prime minister, governor, six members (nominated by the prime minister) from time-to-time from amongst federal ministers and members of the parliament. Besides, Kashmir Affairs minister is an ex officio member and the minister in-charge of the council. Along with the chief minister, six members are elected by the GB Legislative Assembly to represent the area in the house.https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/05/23/gb-council-fails-to-approve-budget-even-after-11-months/

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