CM Gilgit Baltistan seeks discretionary fund and camp office in Islamabad

Opposition calls out the bill for being against democratic norms

ISLAMABAD: As the government of Gilgit Baltistan prepares to present its annual budget, Chief Minister Haji Gulbar Khan has controversially requested a discretionary fund for himself and a separate camp office in Islamabad. This move is expected to significantly strain the already limited budget of the regional government, which largely depends on federal grants.

According to documents obtained, two separate bills were introduced in the Gilgit Baltistan Assembly on Friday, proposing these provisions. The opposition has strongly opposed these bills, labeling them as highly unjustified and unlawful.

The first bill seeks to amend the Chief Minister (Salaries, Allowances, and Privileges) Act, 2021, to allow for the establishment of a separate camp office in Islamabad. This office would include necessary employees, government vehicles, office equipment, and furniture. The proposal was approved in the 7th Cabinet Meeting held on April 24, 2024, and it has now been forwarded to the Gilgit Baltistan Assembly for final approval.

The second bill requests an amendment to the same Act to include an unlimited discretionary fund for the Chief Minister. The proposal states: “An appropriate amount shall be placed by the Government at the disposal of the Chief Minister under the discretionary grant for making discretionary grants.” This amendment was also approved in the aforementioned Cabinet meeting.

Under the existing law, the Chief Minister is only entitled to a fixed amount of Rs 5 million as a discretionary fund.

Both bills have sparked significant controversy and debate within the Assembly, with opposition members arguing that such measures are not only excessive but also a misuse of public funds. The proposals are seen as adding an undue financial burden on the regional government, which already faces economic challenges.

Opposition Leader in the GB Assembly, Kazim Maisam, stated that the move would be strongly opposed at every forum as it goes against rules and democratic norms.

According to him, the bills, which were originally summaries presented in the Cabinet, were tabled in the Assembly, creating an embarrassing situation for the government. He argued that the bills were technically and legally flawed and were intended to facilitate the Chief Minister at the cost of the public budget.

Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]


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