Gilgit-Baltistan: Financial Crisis in GB

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ISLAMABAD (ET):  The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government is facing difficulties due to delays in release of its budgetary allocations from the federal government.

The G-B government wants development and non-development funds given in two equal installments for the whole financial year whereas the centre is releasing these on a quarterly basis, said G-B Finance Minister Mohammad Ali Akhter.

He said that the recent financial crisis in G-B has been overcome for the time being after receiving the second and third quarterly releases of the development and non-development funds, respectively.

The federal government has released Rs1.35 billion for development and Rs2.75 billion for non-development funds. However, G-B has not received the grant of Rs2 billion announced by Prime Minister Pervaiz Asharaf during his visit to Gilgit, he said. Any delay in provision of funds means that the local government has no cash to pay its employees, meet day to day expenses, pay bills, and the development projects come to a halt.

“If the funds are not released in two installments as we demand, the problem will persist in future too,” Akhter said.

He said that after giving provincial status to G-B, the centre now transfers funds to G-B accounts through the State Bank after approval from the federal finance ministry.

Previously, funds were given to the ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan and it directly transferred the sum to G-B administration without any delay, he elaborated.

Akhter said that the G-B government was aware of issues faced by the contractors due to non-release of their bills.

“The contractors have performed rehabilitation works after the natural disasters in 2010 and 2011 and their bills are pending and will be released after receiving the amount from prime minister’s special grant.”

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