Facing a critical fiscal situation, the fund crunched Punjab government Tuesday announced a series of cost-cutting measures, including an immediate 25 per cent reduction in existing entitlements for petroleum product expenses of all government departments, except the frontline departments of Health, Medical Education, Police, Food and Agriculture.
The decision was taken at during a meeting of the sub-committee on finance, chaired by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh through video conferencing. The CM stressed the need for an exit strategy, pointing out that the state could not be kept under lockdown indefinitely. The report of the 20-member expert committee working on the strategy is expected this week.
Amid serious concerns expressed by Finance Minister Manpreet Badal over the “critical fiscal situation” in light of all revenue receipts drying up, the meeting decided that tough decisions needed to be taken, as an interim measure, a government statement said.
The meeting decided that the norms and expenditure on security of people not holding public office would be reviewed by May 15. It may be recalled that the security of several protected persons in the state, including the CM, has already been pruned to divert police personnel to the much-needed curfew enforcement and COVID relief duties.
To generate revenue, all the administrative departments have been asked to deposit the balances available with the societies under them in the State treasury by April 30. There are around 40 such societies functional in various departments, according to an official spokesperson.
The meeting also approved budgetary cuts and deferments, amounting to Rs 1625.87 crore, suggested by various administrative departments, subject to a review again in June 2020.
The meeting gave its formal approval to the CM’s earlier announcement that dependents of an employee of the State government who contracts COVID-19 infection in the line of duty would be paid an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh.
Meanwhile, the CM has asked the health department to prepare a comprehensive budget for COVID related expenditure. It was decided that the finance department, after meeting requirements of health and medical education departments, as also the requirements of relief and rehabilitation, would provide for committed liabilities only till June 30, and the fiscal position of the State would be reviewed again in the first week of June.
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