Only talk of resource mobilisation,no new taxes in budget today
For cash-starved Punjab government,every penny seems to be counting now. The Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP government has decided to fulfill its poll manifesto promises in the state budget to be presented on Wednesday,albeit after fitting them to size. It will be tablets,not laptops,as promised in the SAD manifesto.
The finance department,which is trying every possible trick to meet the poll promises and the growing subsidy bill,has further downsized the offer only Class XII students will now get tablets. The departments logic is that even if only Class XII students are given the tablets,all students passing out from a school will get one each. For the three lakh Class XI and XII students,laptops at Rs 14000 each will have entailed an expenditure of Rs 240 crore. Priced at just at half at Rs 7,000,the tablets for Class XII students will bring down the expense to less than Rs 100 crore. The department also contends that tablets can be made to order to have all features of laptops and are more useful for students. A few other poll promises,such as unemployment allowance,too,may make its way to the budget with austerity cuts.
But though the department has drawn up a list of additional resource mobilisation (ARM) measures after studying the taxes of other states and inviting suggestions from various government departments,it will stop short of announcing new taxes. It is likely to talk of the nearly Rs 3,000-crore revenue gap that needs to be bridged to meet budgetory commitments.
A decision on ARMs is likely to be taken after the budget session to evolve a consensus among the coalition partners,as some of the proposals are facing resistance from both the allies. Some of the tax proposals listed by the departments are property tax,professional tax and tax on sugar and textiles besides higher service charges.
While it awaits political will to mobilise additional resources,the Badal government has started to curtail both tax evasion and its mounting revenue expenditure through austerity measures. The biggest challenge for Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa will be to get the state back on the fiscal roadmap prescribed by the 13th Finance Commission. In poll year,Punjabs revenue and fiscal deficits have both shot off the targets set by the Commission for 2012-13.
CII hopes for more infrastructure
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Northern Region has recommended a push for industrial infrastructure,power,health and education in the Punjab budget 2012-13,which is due to be presented in the Assembly on Wednesday.
Deepak Mittal,chairman of CII Punjab State Council and managing director of International Tractors Ltd opined that The government should take a judicious view of subsidies to reduce deficit. This will help improve the states economy to a great extent and reduce the burden on states exchequer.
D L Sharma,vice-chairman of CII Punjab State Council and director of Vardhman Textiles Ltd said,Allocation of funds for maintenance of industrial infrastructure is imperative for industrial growth,without which the industry cant grow.
Kamna Raj Aggarwalla,immediate past chairperson of CII Punjab State Council & Director,GDPA Fasteners said,Priority needs to be accorded to Health and Education sectors in the budget since these are going to be the most crucial in coming times.
J B S Sangha,co-convenor of CII Punjab Agri & Water Panel hoped that the government would come up with schemes for Food Processing & cold chain to prevent wastage of agriculture produce.
Pikender Pal Singh,regional director of CII Northern Region said: Apart from adequate funding for the timely execution of power projects in Punjab,allocation is also needed towards strengthening Transmission & Distribution systems to reduce T & D losses. This will alleviate the power crisis in the state and hence help the industry,he added.
On the opening day of the budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha,on Tuesday,tributes were paid to departed souls including former Chief Parliamentary Secretary and MLA Amarjit Singh Sahi,Ex-MLA Joginder Singh Randhawa and others. Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal also paid tribute to freedom fighters and Ratnesh Singh Sodi a Punjabi journalist. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal requested the speaker following the Lok Sabha system of paying tribute that tribute should be also paid to the unfortunate incident of slaughter of cows in Joga while leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar requested tribute for the deceased in the Jalandhar factory collapse.