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AAP govt committed to reduce Punjab’s debt burden: Cheema

Speaking in the Punjab Assembly during a discussion on budget estimates, Cheema said the state has an annual borrowing limit of Rs 55,000 crore.

Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema presents the state budget. (File)

Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Wednesday said the Bhagwant Mann-led government is committed to reduce Punjab’s debt burden.

Speaking in the Punjab Assembly during a discussion on budget estimates, Cheema said the state has an annual borrowing limit of Rs 55,000 crore. “But we will not raise more than Rs 35,000 crore and we will also repay Rs 36,000 crore of debt,” said Cheema, adding that this way they they “will reduce the debt burden”.

He informed the House that in 2020-21, a sum of Rs 42,386 crore was borrowed and in 2021-21, Rs 41,083 crore was raised. Cheema said so far, the AAP government has raised Rs 8,000 crore and also repaid Rs 10,500 crore.

After the opposition members of the House raised questions over the state excise policy, Cheema said the state government has targeted to generate Rs 9,600 crore as against Rs 6,200 crore in last fiscal from liquor.

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“They criticised us for excise policy as we made liquor cheaper. But their member used to take all vends in Punjab bordering Haryana and Rajasthan to sell smuggled cheap liquor from the two states,” he said without taking any names.

On the issue of setting up a tax intelligence unit, the minister said it will not harass anyone but will trouble those who indulge in tax evasion. He informed the House that the tax intelligence unit is running successfully in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Cheema, who took part in the GST council meeting here, informed the House that he had sought that the GST compensation should be extended for the next five years.

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On the issues of the old pension scheme and giving pay scales as per the seventh pay commission, Cheema said the chief minister was considering these matters.

Cheema said the AAP-government will take action against those who have indulged in corruption.
Interrupting the minister, Leader of Opposition and Congress MLA Partap Singh Bajwa asked him to also act against corrupt officers.

After Bajwa accused the AAP MLAs of “daily reporting” to a person who is sitting in the gallery, apparently refereing to AAP MP Raghav Chadha, the ruling legislators rose from their seats and objected to the statement.
Heated exchanges took place between AAP MLA Aman Arora, Harpal Cheema and Bajwa.

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Though Bajwa did not take any names, Chadha was sitting in the gallery of the House to witness the proceedings.

On the issue of conversion of Rs 31,000 crore of cash credit limit (CCL) gap into long term loan by then SAD-BJP
regime, Cheema said the AAP government took up this issue with the Centre and has been able to reduce the rate of interest from 8.25 per cent to 7.35 per cent which would reduce interest burden by about Rs 3,000 crore.

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First published on: 30-06-2022 at 05:46:00 am
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