March 10, 2021 10:08:24 am
The Opposition parties rejected the budget presented by Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, stating that it had very little to offer to the citizens of the state even as many Congress MLAs also took on their own government over drug menace and lack of rural health facilities.
Speaking on the budget proposals during the discussion on the budget in the Assembly on Tuesday, Manpreet Badal and the Congress government came under fire over the state of finances.
In his budget speech Monday, Manpreet had said that the state’s finances were on the road to recovery and that this was due to the efforts of the Congress government in the past four years. This was contested by the opposition on Tuesday.
Stating that the budget had “disappointed every section of society”, senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia said that the Congress had not fulfilled its election promises of jobs for each household and total farm loan waiver.
Majithia contended that the Finance Minister had failed to account for the Rs 8,359 crore loan taken from the Centre in the budget. “This loan will stand in your books,” he said, adding that it took the debt of the state to Rs 2.73 lakh crore.
Manpreet contended that this loan will be repaid by the Centre even as Majithia slammed the government for delaying the implementation of the Ashirwad scheme and enhanced old age pension from July.
Majithia said debt to gross state domestic product would increase to around 48 per cent instead of 45 per cent as claimed by the FM if the actual financial figures were taken into consideration.
As Majithia hit out at the government with a couplet, Punjab minister Charanjit Singh Channi retaliated saying entire Punjab was asking about the “wealth amassed” by one family.
Congress MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu also joined Charanjit Channi in an attempt to corner Majithia and asked how he got a “range of sports utility vehicles”, among other things.
Replying to this, Majithia said that he was happy that he was able to “make speak those who were sleeping”, apparently pointing towards Navjot Sidhu.
Former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, who is no longer associated with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said the economic growth of the state has been consistently on a downslide and said that the budget tried to paint a rosy picture but the truth was far from it.
He alleged that be it the last government, in which he was finance minister, or the current one, certain “vested interests” were involved in forming the policies.
Even as the Opposition cornered the treasury benches, Congress MLA from Amargarh, Surjit Singh Dhiman, raised the issue of “poor condition” of the health facilities in his constituency.
He said that the faith of people from health services in rural areas was “vanishing” while citing an example of health facilities in Amargarh. “The condition of government health services was pitiful in Amargarh,” he said.
The Congress MLA from Ajnala, Harpartap Singh Ajnala, raised the issue of drugs in Punjab and appealed to all MLAs not to support anyone selling heroin, smack and tramadol.
Aam Aadmi Party legislator Amarjit Singh Sandoa castigated the government for not allocating any project for the Rupnagar constituency. Sandoa had briefly joined the Congress in the presence of the Speaker, Rana KP Singh, but has now returned to the AAP fold.
The AAP MLA from Sunam, Aman Arora, called the budget an ‘election budget’ and also alleged that figures were fudged in the budget proposals. He called the budget as ‘khaali peepa’ (empty canister).
Discussing the budget in the Assembly, the AAP MLA from Budhlada, Budh Ram, said that the budget was nothing but “lollipops and lorries”. He said that the budget had promised to provide free bus service to women but surprisingly half of the villages did not have government buses. He said that false promises of debt waiver were being made by the government. “Notices have been issued to the farmers of village Bahadarpur in my constituency by the corporate society that action would be taken against them if they did not repay the loans,” he added.
The AAP MLA from Bathinda Rural, Rupinder Kaur Ruby, said that the budget was an attempt to mislead the people of Punjab by mere manipulation of words.
She said that the budget was nothing but a game of statistics. She said that the post-matric stipend mentioned in the budget did not mention the arrears. The MLA stated that before coming to power, the Congress had promised to provide Ghar-Ghar Rozgar, but now when the unemployed youth seeks employment, they were beaten up by the police, the latest example being the unemployed teachers who were beaten up in Patiala on the occasion of Women’s Day Monday.
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