Updated: March 9, 2021 5:16:57 am
“IT IS a budget to please farmers and farm labourers while the taxpayer section has been ignored yet again.” This was the immediate reaction of the Punjab industry after the state’s Budget was presented by Finance Minister Manpreet Badal. Industrialists were not happy with the allocation of only Rs 150 crore as innovation fund, adding that subsidy for the power department was also inadequate, due to which Rs 5 per unit power supply may not be fulfilled in true letter and spirit.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Upkar Singh Ahuja, president Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) said, “Industry has been ignored completely. This budget seems to be an election budget meant to please farmers. Only Rs 150 crore has been earmarked as innovation fund, that also for early stage start-ups, which is very nominal.”
Pankaj Sharma, general secretary, said: “Industry has been sending repeated representations for improvement in infrastructure in focal points, but no extra funds have been earmarked for the same. We have been asking for new industrial areas and focal points, but it has been totally ignored. One time settlement (OTS) policy for loan defaulters was very badly required, but the one announced by the finance minister is with many riders. It seems to be just an eyewash.”
Ahuja added, “Finance minister has kept various sections in mind like women, children, has doubled old age pension, has even allotted funds for religious places, but has opted to ignore industry completely. Industry is reeling under financial burden due to Covid and was looking for some respite in the budget. Fiscal deficit is increasing every year and some drastic measures are required by the government to come out of the financial mess.”
Badish Jindal, president of the All Industries and Trade Forum (AITF) said, “In the post-Covid budget, no relief has been announced by the government. The industry was expecting some major relief however. The whole budget is full of fake statements. Even the government announced a GSDP rate of 10.43 per cent from 2017-18 to 2019-20 which has no relevance as compared to the economic condition of the state.”
He added, “Subsidy of Rs 1,928 crore is not sufficient to provide power to industries @Rs 5 per unit, The government promised to supply power to the industries @Rs 5 per unit as per their manifesto but the industry is paying from Rs 7 per unit to Rs 18 per unit due to fixed charges on power.”
Jindal said, “Most of the issues taken up in the budget are either previously announced policies which have no relevance with the budget speech. The announcements such as deemed approvals and one-time settlement were announced before by the government. The government announced investment of Rs 71,262 crore in the budget but kept the provision of merely Rs 50 crore of subsidies against investment proposals.”
Bobby Jindal, general secretary of Punjab Dyers Association said, “They have announced loan waiver for farm labourers, looking at the ongoing farmers’ agitation they have kept only farmers and farm labourers in mind. We don’t seem to be their favourite vote bank and hence, the priorities in budget could be judged.”
Gurmeet Singh Kular, president of the Federation of Industrial and Commercial Organisation (FICO), said, “Just like the previous four budgets, this budget is also a dummy budget, and has nothing for the industry. The industry has been hit hard by the Covid pandemic and we were expecting some relief package from the government, but are utterly disappointed.” Harjot Singh Sondh, co-chairman of FICO, said, “No special package for the bicycle industry has been announced whereas India is the second largest manufacturers of world after China. Punjab is the hub for bicycle industry of the country, hence this industry needs a push from the state.”
Manjinder Singh Sachdeva, senior vice-president of FICO, said that the government has not introduced any scheme to encourage the use of electric vehicles in the state. Use of electric vehicles, they way fuel prices are going up. It can also help in improving air quality. The government could offer interest subsidy on purchase of these vehicles or give incentive in the shape of GST refund and exempting registration charges on these vehicles. But nothing has been done.”
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