EVEN AS Punjab Chief Secretary Sarvesh Kaushal told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the state’s outstanding debt is estimated to touch Rs 1,24,471 crore by the end of current fiscal, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal on Wednesday claimed that the SAD-BJP government had curbed debt and “consolidated its fiscal condition by raising revenue through collection of taxes”.
He also presented a progress report of SAD-BJP government’s nine-year rule in Punjab. Urging the “opposition to not mislead people by stating random figures”, Sukhbir said that “productive debt had stimulated overall growth and was good for the state”. He added that even progressive nations took productive debt to bolster their economies. Calling it as a “misnomer” that Punjab was burdened by heavy debt, the Deputy CM stated that Punjab was still amongst the “least indebted states in the country”.
He said the state’s tax revenue had increased from Rs 36,808 crore during the Congress regime to 1.68 lakh crore in the last nine years. Making the presentation at a hotel here, Sukhbir said that besides highlighting achievements of the government another reason for making the presentation was “to deflate the malicious propaganda launched by the opposition parties for their vested political interests”.
He said when the SAD-BJP government took over the reins in 2007, it had to bear a huge financial burden imposed by the 5th pay commission in its recommendations besides fulfilling some other financial obligations. If proper steps had not been taken at that stage to contain the fluidic finances, Punjab could have slipped into bankruptcy, he added.
In addition to this, Sukhbir said the government had also taken various steps for provisioning of basic amenities, infrastructure, power generation and implementation of administrative reforms to fulfil the commitments made to the electorate.
The Deputy CM also said Punjab had done extremely well on all other economic indicators. “Punjab’s GDP increased from Rs 5.04 lakh crore during Congress rule to Rs 23.60 lakh crore in the last nine years”. Explaining discrimination in ratio of devolution of taxes to revenue he said it was 29 per cent in case of Punjab whereas the same was 76 per cent in case of Uttar Pradesh, 81 per cent in case of Jharkhand and 120 per cent in case of Bihar. “We were penalised for our efficiency during the UPA rule,” he said.
Deputy CM said Punjab had “achieved the distinction of being the only power surplus state in the country”. He said Punjab was power deficit with 6,201 MW production before 2007 when the SAD-BJP government took over. “The previous Congress regime had not added any unit of electricity into the state power production. But after taking over in 2007 we added 5,603 MW units of power at a capital investment of Rs 30,000 crore,” he said.
Sukhbir said the Punjab Investment Promotion Bureau whose CEO had the powers of 23 departments was created to attract investment in the state. “Never has such an experiment even been tried elsewhere”, he said adding the step was already bearing fruit.
He said state was coming out with a policy whereby all new investors would be supplied power below Rs 4.99 per unit. “This is a bold move considering most states are supplying power to industrial sector at rates ranging from Rs 7 to Rs 10 per unit,” he added. To improve the road network, he said, an investment of “Rs 28,678 crore had been made on different 4/6 laning projects whereas Congress had spent only Rs. 3,000 crore on construction of roads”.