In a move which will add an additional burden on the already stretched exchequer, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) cabinet on Tuesday approved a move to increase the salaries and allowances of ministers in the valley by over 200 per cent.
The move was approved during a meeting of the AJK cabinet which also gave its approval to establish the first food authority in the valley and decided to start delimitations for the local body elections in the region.
The cabinet that met in Muzaffarabad on Tuesday and was presided over by the AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider. The meeting decided to establish the AJK Food Authority like the body in Punjab.
The cabinet also approved to establish a food testing laboratory in the valley to check the quality of food items being sold and to ensure the health of the people.
The cabinet decided that the secretary of the food department would head the authority while secretaries from the health, agriculture and local government ministries, three members of the AJK Legislative Assembly and a representative each from the AJK Chamber of Commerce, food industries and consumers would be members of the authority.
The cabinet members also agreed to increase compensation for accidental deaths from Rs200,000 to Rs400,000.
They also decided to conduct the local bodies elections under AJK Election Commission while the delimitation process for this exercise would commence soon.
The cabinet also granted its approval to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Ministers (salaries, allowances and privileges) amendment Ordinance 2017 which would see the salaries and perks of the valley’s ministers rise by over 200 per cent.
The AJK cabinet members also condemned the recent brutalities committed by the occupational troops in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK) to crush the ongoing liberation struggle.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) parliamentary leader in AJK assembly Abdul Majid Khan slammed the government’s move to raise salaries and allowances of ministers.
He said that government employees were paid meagre salaries, while Kashmiri refugees had no food but the prime minister had doubled salaries of ministers showing how greedy the incumbent regime was.
“Outgoing Chief Secretary Muhammad Jalal Sikandar Sultan as secretary finance had given his approval for the 100 per cent rise in salaries and other perks of ministers which was unfortunate,” Khan said, adding, “The people have no access to medicines in hospitals and the educated youth are running from pillar to post to get jobs.
The PTI parliamentary leader demanded that the prime minister should raise daily allowances of Kashmir refugees from Rs50 per day per person in camps by 100 to 150 per cent.
Mir. AJK cabinet approves food authority for valley. The Express Tribune, April 19, 2017.