The Punjab budget for 2015-16, which estimates a revenue deficit of Rs 6,394 crore, has no proposals for fresh taxes or resource mobilisation. Despite poor fiscal health, the state will bear the power subsidy bill for farmers. The budget, presented by Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa Wednesday, has a total outlay of Rs 79,314 crore. Fiscal deficit is projected to be Rs 11,895 crore compared to last year’s revised estimates of Rs 10,397 crore.
The gap between revenue receipts (Rs 46,229 crore) and revenue expenditure (Rs 52,623 crore) has widened this year — with a deficit of Rs 6,494 crore.
The state will benefit from increased share of central taxes. The devolution would add Rs 3,000 crore to the state’s kitty.
The power subsidy bill is expected to cost the exchequer Rs 5,484 crore. In the vote-pulling scheme, the state has been providing free power to farmers and SC families. The Centre had asked Punjab to rationalise the subsidy, but Dhindsa said he cannot take the “political decision”.
He proposed a new fleet of 225 buses with an outlay of Rs 75 crore, with safety measures like GPS devices and computerised depots in the offing.
The minister set aside Rs 692 crore for disbursement of old age and other pensions to 20 lakh beneficiaries.