February 2008 News

AJK yet to receive over Rs2bn relief fund

21 February 2008
The Dawn
Tariq Naqash

MUZAFFARABAD: The AJK finance department has asked the Board of Revenue (BoR) to immediately remit more than Rs2 billion, transferred to it under president relief fund, to the state treasury, it has been learnt. Sources said the federal government had pledged to transfer Rs4187.295 million under the fund to the AJK government so that the latter could acquire land for public sector buildings, including the university, in AJK. Of that amount, Rs2102.271 million had been transferred to the BoR-Collector Land Acquisition Muzaffarabad in two unequal instalments during the past two months but the amount had been kept out of the state treasury ever since in violation of rules, according to the finance department. In a recent letter, the finance department had pointed out to the BoR that since it was affording an overdraft of Rs556.754 million since Jan 22 and was also bearing mark-up on it at the prevailing rates, the amount transferred by the federal government should be remitted in the state treasury immediately. In this regard, the finance department had also quoted a rule that all sums of money which any state officer receives in his official capacity must immediately be deposited in full in the nearest treasury without any deduction whatsoever. However, when contacted by Dawn, a BoR official said the amount had already been deposited in the state treasury shortly after the cheques were received by the BoR through the State Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (Serra). I wonder why the finance department is ignorant of this matter and has written us a letter when the amount has already been deposited in the state treasury, said the BoR official, requesting anonymity. The official said that the first cheque of Rs500 million was received in the middle of December last year whereas the second cheque on January 26. Second cheque, he said, was delayed by a week only because reports emerged that the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra) was contemplating some changes in its plans regarding the acquisition of land. At this, the higher authorities suggested that the amount in question should not be deposited in the state treasury because in the event of its return to the federal government its withdrawal from the state treasury would be very cumbersome, the official added. However, he said as the Erra conveyed to the BoR to go ahead the amount was deposited in the treasury in the first week of Feb. The BoR official said that not only the Erra money, but the BoR had also immediately deposited Rs670 million in the state treasury for the acquisition of land for Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower project in Chattar Klas, some 20 kilometres south of here along Muzaffarabad-Kohala road, the official said. In response to a question, he however admitted that no substantial progress had been made for acquisition of land for construction of public sector infrastructure, let alone the proposed satellite towns for private housing.

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