Sitharaman to present J&K’s budget for 2022-23 in Lok Sabha next week

Over Rs 1 lakh cr allocation likely for third time

*MoF giving final touch, UT officials to reach Delhi

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Mar 12: Annual budget of Jammu and Kashmir for next financial year of 2022-23 is likely to be tabled in Lok Sabha next week after Parliament resumes functioning for second part of the budget session from March 14. The budget is being given final touch by the Union Ministry of Finance (MoF) before presentation in the Parliament.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Jammu and Kashmir budget could be presented any day next week and concerned officials of the Union Territory have been sounded about it. They will reach the Union capital a day ahead of the budget presentation.
Last two budgets of Jammu and Kashmir were presented in the Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 17, 2020 and March 17, 2021.
As the Parliament resumes its sitting after break on March 14, sources said, top officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Government have been asked to keep ready as the Finance Minister could present budget in Lok Sabha anytime next week.
“The budget is ready. Jammu and Kashmir Government has given final touch while the Union Finance Ministry officials are now engaged in preparing final draft including proposals for the next fiscal year of 2022-23,” sources said.
The Government is expecting a handsome amount in the budget for both urban and rural local bodies though expenditure by them during current financial year of 2021-22 remained a cause of concern. A good budget for rural local bodies will boost development in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
Agriculture is another sector in which the Government is expecting hike in budgetary allocation for 2022-23.
The Union Home Ministry has major say in budget of the Union Territories. This is more so in cases of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as it has to spend a lot on Security Related Expenditure (SRE) due to three decades long militancy.
Jammu and Kashmir budget has to be passed by both Houses of the Parliament before March 31.
This will be third consecutive budget of Jammu and Kashmir which will be presented in the Parliament in the absence of Legislative Assembly in the Union Territory due to delay in conduct of Assembly elections.
According to sources, budget of Jammu and Kashmir could be to the tune of around Rs 1.10 lakh crore for the financial year of 2022-23 as against Rs 1.08 lakh for current fiscal year of 2021-22.
“In view of financial discipline maintained by Jammu and Kashmir, the Finance Ministry is expected to increase the budget for next financial year as compared to current fiscal year,” sources said but added that the hike would be nominal as J&K’s budget has already crossed Rs one lakh crore for the past two years.
Describing Rs 1.10 lakh crore worth budget for Jammu and Kashmir as “quite significant”, sources said this will help in boosting infrastructure development across the Union Territory especially in rural areas.
Jammu and Kashmir’s annual budget has seen steep hike during past three years. In 2019-20, J&K had Rs 88,911 crore worth budget which went up to Rs 1.01 lakh crore for 2020-21 and Rs 1.08 lakh crore in 2021-22. It is now expected to touch Rs 1.10 lakh crore in the financial year of 2022-23.
Last budget of Jammu and Kashmir which was presented in the Legislative Assembly was in January 2018 for the financial year of 2018-19. Later, the Assembly was dissolved after the BJP withdrew support to Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP Government.
The budget for 2019-20 was approved by the Governor as head of then State Administrative Council (SAC).
However, on August 5, 2019 the Central Government had scrapped special status of J&K and bifurcated it into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. As elections to the J&K Assembly couldn’t be held, its budgets since then were tabled and passed in the Parliament.