The bankruptcy of Punjab government can be well gauged from the fact that it is yet to pay accommodation and gifts’ bills of National Youth Festival, which was hosted by the state in January this year.
The fest — with a total budget of Rs 6 crore (Rs 2 crore from the Centre and Rs 4 crore from state government) — ended with exceeding the budget as five-star accommodations for VIP guests and food bills went too ahead of the planned fund.
At the last moment, the Parkash Singh Badal government also decided to gift each student a sweater from Monte Carlo worth Rs 2,000, along with a kit and memento, which further bloated the bill by around Rs 50 lakh.
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Sources from the Youth Affairs Department of Punjab confirmed to The Indian Express that “hotels in Ludhiana are regularly warning the government to either pay their dues or face the music.” “We have to pay around Rs 5 lakh to the hotels in Ludhiana, including top hotels like Park Plaza, Maharjara Regency, Sarovar Portico etc where our guests stayed. They are calling us daily and we are contacting the treasury branch, but funds are not getting released. Even on March 31, we waited for hours at treasury office with a hope that funds will be released but nothing happened. An amount of Rs 18 lakh has to be paid to Monte Carlo for the sweaters, which were gifted to all participants and they too are calling daily for payments,” said a source from the department.
While Hridyapal Kaur, Director, Youth Affairs, is on a visit abroad for personal work, Deputy Director Charanjit Singh told The Indian Express: “Yes the payments are pending, but we have brought this to the notice of officials and payments are in process.”
PWD Minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, during the closing ceremony of the fest, had even announced that “Punjab is ready to host the fest again next year.”