In a National Economic Council meeting presided over by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday, the share of development budget for Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) has been increased to Rs 22b in the budget for financial year 2017-18. This was stated by the Planning Minister, Ahsan Iqbal. Previously the development budget of AJK region stood at Rs 11b, which has been doubled for the next FY 2017-18. The development budget for Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has been increased from Rs22b in FY 2016-17 to Rs 24b in next year’s budget.
For Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region, the development budget allotted has risen to Rs15b for the next FY 2017-18 which was Rs9b in the year before. Both the heads of GB and AJK regions decried the discriminatory attitude of the four provinces and for having no share in the National Finance Commission (NFC) award.
According to sources, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has instructed the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to convene a meeting with the Chief Ministers of the four provinces after the presentation of the budget which is expected to be announced on May 26th. It is expected that the meeting will discuss how to share resources from the NFC award with GB and AJK regions. Since both AJK and GB regions aren’t federating units, they aren’t eligible to receive any share from the NFC award. As a result, the federal government has to pay out for these two regions financial needs from its own share in the NFC.