‘Centre punishing Punjab by not releasing funds’

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal today hinted that there would be 35 per cent growth in the upcoming budget,with 3 to 5 per cent specially earmarked for the health sector.

Written by Aman Sood | Patiala | Published: February 7, 2009 3:30 am

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal today hinted that there would be 35 per cent growth in the upcoming budget,with 3 to 5 per cent specially earmarked for the health sector. He said the Centre was “punishing” Punjab for its high per capita income,despite it having no industries,by releasing more funds to less developed states.

Manpreet pointed out that a new industrial policy would be announced in a week’s time that would lead to more prosperity and would woo more industrialists.

He,however,denied that octroi would be re-imposed under any circumstances.

“I am meeting Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia on February 24 and would get a formal approval to all the budgetary provisions,” he said,after attending a seminar at Punjabi University,organised by the School of Management Studies. “If the code of conduct is not in place by March 12,we would be through with the budget session that would begin on February 27. Otherwise,we would wait till the Parliamentary elections are through,” he said.

Manpreet said VAT figures are expected to reach around Rs 7,000 crore this fiscal,which is a commendable achievement in times of recession. “Further,we are expecting to raise Rs 2,000 crore from stamp and registration duty,so there is no need for any new taxes. We only need good planning for the coming year,” said the Finance Minister. Talking about the pending arrears to be released to Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB),he said Rs 2,800 crore has been kept aside to be paid to the PSEB. For a power-surplus Punjab,private players are the need of the hour,he said,adding,“People are not bothered about privatisation or government-owned PSEB; they just want power.”

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