During the meeting of the National Economic Council, which was chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah had said that his government will have to reduce expenditure in order to complete development projects.
He said that the government will have to generate additional income to restructure the region’s economy which was hit hard by last year’s floods.
“We will have to reduce outside dependence, and for that matter we will have to bring the affluent class into the tax net,” Shah told participants of the meeting. He assured that people in lower income groups “will not be affected”.
Nationalist parties have resisted the imposition of tax in Gilgit-Baltistan under the slogan ‘no taxation without representation’. “We will pay taxes but not without representation in the National Assembly and Senate,” said Nawaz Naji, a nationalist who won the recent by-elections in Ghizer.
Meanwhile, a delegation of USAID has met the chief minister and informed him of a hospital project the agency plans to build in Gilgit-Baltistan.
“The delegation briefed the chief minister that two earthquake-proof hospitals of 97 beds each will be set up in Gilgit and Baltistan,” an official said, adding that the first hospital will be set up in Gilgit in October this year.
The USAID has asked for provision of 80 Kanals of land for the hospitals which will have a 24-hour uninterrupted supply of electricity. The chief minister has assured USAID his support for the projects.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2011.