March 11, 2021 5:52:18 am
Under attack from opposition for presenting “an election manifesto in the shape of Punjab budget 2021-2022”, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal Wednesday defended the provisions announced saying their real effect should be gauged from the reactions of those who have benefitted from the enhanced old age pensions and the grant under Ashirwad scheme. Manpreet said the opposition was peeved because they have been confronted with a budget that they did not expect.
“There will be 48,000 government jobs available by July and 52,000 by December. There will be 33,000 women who will be able to get government jobs due to reservation. The society in Punjab will change when women start getting salary in their hands,” Manpreet said replying to the debate on budget on the last day of the session.
Rebutting the opposition’s accusations on non-availability of government buses in the state to fulfil the budgetary provision of free travel for women and students, Manpreet said that Rs 150 crore had been kept aside in the budget for new buses.
There was a short sharp exchange of words between Manpreet and senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia when the latter addressed the Speaker saying this was one of the last sessions of the House in the present term of the Assembly and then who knows, which member will be re-elected or not.
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“Rest all will come back, you will not come back,” said Manpreet. To this Majithia retorted that Manpreet knew who will come to power, because he is quick to join that party. He added that this was the eighth budget that Manpreet had presented in the last 15 years.
Manpreet said the opposition’s claims of jugglery of figures was false. “This is the first time in the history of Punjab that Rs 14,000 crore has been allocated for capital expenditure,” he added.
Equating the performance of the Congress government with that of the cricket match in the movie Lagaan, Manpreet said that Capt Amarinder Singh has hit a sixer in the last year of the government.
Earlier, taking part in the discussion on budget, Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema said that the Congress has cheated the government employees and that they would be repaid for this treachery in the 2022 elections.
“The sharpest reaction against your budget has come from the government employees who were protesting outside the Vidhan Sabha even as you read the budget speech,” said Cheema.
Attacking the Congress for failing to deliver on the SC Scholarships and not clearing the farmers’ debts in its entirety, Cheema said that the government fooled the people of the state over the “Ghar Ghar Naukri” scheme too. “Data of employees has been collected from shops and business establishments and the same has been uploaded on the portal of the scheme to show achievements,” he said.
Cheema also targeted the government for the high power tariffs in the state. “The Power Purchase Agreements have not been abrogated as promised and the tariff has been hiked an unprecedented 14 times during this government’s tenure,” he said.
Calling the budget “anti-people”, the LoP said that Capt Amarinder Singh had waived a white paper on the SAD-BJP government’s tenure saying that he knew what they were upto but the same has not been put before the House. “Why is he scared,” he asked.
NK Sharma and Simarjeet Bains spar
Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) MLA Simarjeet Bains raised the issue of collusion and a ‘pact’ between Congress and the Akalis due to which no action had been taken against the latter for incidents of desecration, Behbal Kalan firing and the smuggling of ‘chitta’ (drugs) in the state.
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