FM assures release of 50 pc funds to J&K well ahead of FY to take up works

Discussion on budget remains stalled in LS

*If din persists, budget may be passed without discussion

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Mar 17: Passage of Jammu and Kashmir budget remained stalled in Lok Sabha due to uproar leading to adjournment of the Parliament till 11 am on Monday but there were indications from the Union Finance Ministry that it would be passed before March 25 even if uproar persists and the Union Territory will get 50 percent budget well ahead of the beginning of next financial year from April 1, 2023.
After discussion followed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s reply, the budget was scheduled to be passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday (March 14) i.e. a day after it was introduced in the House amid uproarious scenes. The budget was tabled in Lok Sabha by Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Choudhary on March 13 and Rajya Sabha on March 14. On both the occasions, the budget was laid on table of the Houses amidst furore from both the sides.
After approval from Lok Sabha, the budgetary proposals are to be debated in Rajya Sabha followed by the Finance Minister’s reply after which the budget will be passed.
“The budget can be released only after the Parliament nod,”’ official sources told the Excelsior.
They said senior officers from Jammu and Kashmir including Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, who has also been looking after the Finance Department in the absence of any Administrative Secretary Finance, Planning Secretary Raghav Langar, other bureaucrats and most of senior officers of the Finance Department camped in New Delhi till today as the budget was scheduled to be discussed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
However, the discussion couldn’t take place as both Houses of Parliament are being daily adjourned due to pandemonium on a host of issues by treasury as well as opposition benches.
If the din persists in Parliament, the Government will be left with no option but to move the budget for passage without debate.
Meanwhile, the Union Finance Ministry is understood to have assured the Jammu and Kashmir administration that 50 percent of the budget might be released in advance after the Parliament nod well before the start of next Financial Year so that developmental works, including those under Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs), Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) and UT sector are taken up.
“Development works in Jammu and Kashmir will not be allowed to suffer,” sources said.
Rest of the budget will also be released shortly, they said, adding release of 50 percent budget will help the administration of the Union Territory to immediately initiate works and projects already identified for next year’s budget.
Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary had on March 13 presented Rs 1,18,500 crore worth annual budget for financial year of 2023-24 for Jammu and Kashmir in the Parliament, an increase of Rs 5500 crore over current fiscal.
The Finance Minister listed priorities for Jammu and Kashmir in the annual budget as good governance, strengthening of grassroots democracy, promoting sustainable agriculture, facilitating investment and industrial growth, employment generation, accelerated development and inclusive growth, women empowerment and doubling Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within five years.
This was fourth consecutive budget of Jammu and Kashmir which was presented in the Parliament.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had presented J&K’s budget for 2020-21 on March 17, 2020, 2021-22 on March 17, 2021 and 2022-23 on March 14, 2022.
The budget for 2019-2020 was adopted by the then State Administrative Council (SAC) here while budget of 2018-19 was last to be presented in the Assembly of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir by then Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu before the Government collapsed after withdrawal of support to Mehbooba Mufti-led coalition Government by the BJP in June 2018.