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No new taxes, 300 units of free power for Punjab in AAP’s ‘Janta budget’

The budget has a stamp of Delhi model of AAP, and Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia was a witness to the presentation as he sat in the visitor’s gallery of the Punjab assembly.

Harpal Singh Cheema, Aam Aadmi Party AAP, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsPunjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann before presenting his first Budget on Monday. (Photo: Twitter/@BhagwantMann)

With no new taxes imposed, Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Monday presented the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s maiden budget for 2022-23 fiscal, with a total outlay of Rs 1,55,859.78 crore and a revenue deficit of Rs 12,553.80 crore.

Having emphasis on education, health and agriculture, the government’s focus to mop up resources would be from excise revenue pegged at Rs 9,648 crore and fiscal prudence.

“We will cut corners and exercise fiscal prudence. Previous governments were known for their profligacy and we would ensure not a paisa is wasted. For instance, we have saved Rs 20 crore of the state exchequer by doing away with multiple pensions of state legislators. This way we will exercise austerity measures to ensure that people’s money went back to people.”

While the government has not been able to fulfill its pre-poll promise of giving away Rs 1,000 per month to women in its maiden budget for want of funds, it has announced 75 Mohalla Clinics to be functional from August 15 and has set aside Rs 1,800 crore for 300 units of free power to be rolled out to people from July 1 onwards.

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The budget has a stamp of Delhi model of AAP, and Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia was a witness to the presentation as he sat in the
visitor’s gallery of the Punjab state assembly.

On the fiscal health front, the state finances are in a mess. Cheema blamed the previous governments for the mess as he said that the debt on the state was burgeoning and it was projected to go up to Rs 2.84 crore by the end of this fiscal. As per revised estimates of 2021-22 fiscal, it is Rs 2.63 crore. The state would need Rs 36,512 crore for debt servicing this fiscal.

Also, this was for the first time that Punjab presented a paperless budget.
This exercise saved 800 trees from being cut which would otherwise had gone into preparing the budget on paper, Cheema said.
However, as the MLAs were not able to access the budget on their phones, Congress member Sukhpal Khaira protested that they were not able to read it as the FM delivered his budget speech. Speaker Kultar Sandhwan later made the printed copies of the budget available.

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Cheema said it was ‘Janta’s budget’ as the government had consulted the stakeholders and people of the state before preparing the budget. The suggestions were received on various media. It was for the first time that 27.3% suggestions came from women, he added.

He said the GST compensation regime was coming to an end on June 30 and the previous government had not made any preparations for the state not to face challenges after the GST. The state may face a fall in receipts to the tune of Rs 14,000 to Rs 16,000 crore, said Cheema. He said the state’s own tax revenue has gone down from 72% to 45%.

He said the total outlay at Rs 1.55 lakh crore reflects 14.20% growth compared to the FY 2021-22. The revenue deficit and fiscal deficit have been pegged at 1.99% and 3.78%, respectively. The effective outstanding debt to GSDP has been estimated to be 45.23% for FY 2022-23.

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The revenue expenditure of state at Rs 1,07,932 crore shows an incremental growth of 5.35% over the previous year. Out of this, Rs 66,440 crore is proposed towards the committed expenditure, a jump of 11.10% in comparison to the last financial year. This is largely attributed to the implementation of the 6th Punjab Pay Commission report, legacy debt and associated interest payments.

At a glance (in crore)

The capital expenditure is pegged at Rs 10,981 crore showing a growth of 8.95% over the previous year. This shows the commitment of the government to invest in the future as capital assets and infrastructure have a multiplier effect on the economy.

For the agriculture sector, the state government has set aside Rs 11,560 crore. Out of this, Rs 150 crore has been allocated for those farmers taking to Direct Sowing of Rice (DSR) technique, amid efforts of the government to divert paddy farmers to DSR to save underground water. The government has initiated a scheme to pay a bonus of Rs 1,500 per acre for such paddy farmers.

An amount of Rs 200 crore has been set aside to explore various possibilities and solutions to stubble burning, a perennial problem for the state.

Contrary to what was being rumoured that the AAP government would do away with free power to farmers, the FM said that this would continue. The budget has an allocation of Rs 6,947 crore for free power to the farm sector.

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He added that the state’s agency, MARKFED, has raised a loan of Rs 400 crore for procurement of moongi. The government had promised MSP on moongi for the farmers.

The budget outlay for health is at Rs 4,731 crore which is an increase of 24% over that of FY 2021-22. While 75 Mohalla Clinics would be operationalised by August 15 this year, the government plans to establish 117 Mohalla Clinics for which an initial allocation of Rs 77 crore is being proposed.

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On medical education front, the FM said that the government would set up 16 new medical colleges taking the total number to 25 in the state over a period of next five years and has set aside Rs 1,033 crore for medical education.

Ukraine happened and we had a panic back home. Now, we would have enough colleges for our children to study medicine in Punjab.”

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A new medical college, Sant Baba Attar Singh State Institute of Medical Sciences, Sangrur district, with 100 MBBS seats is being established. An initial allocation of Rs 50 crore has been provided for the college.

An amount of Rs 200 crore has been set aside for Punjabi University in the current fiscal to tide over the funds crunch.

Fulfilling its promise of regularisation of 35,000 contractual employees and filling 25,000 vacancies in public sector, the government has set aside Rs 450 crore.
On the school education front, the government has set aside Rs 200 crore for turning 100 existing schools as “Schools of Eminence”. These schools would be composite schools from pre-primary to 12th standard and would be equipped with superlative infrastructure like digital classrooms, fully equipped labs, vocational training facilities and trained faculty. The education sector has seen an allocation higher than 16.2% than last year.

The FM said that the government was setting up a Tax Intelligence Unit, to equip the finance department to improve tax compliances under GST through taxpayer facilitation and communication; and would strengthen tax analytics capabilities in the department.

The government has also introduced a Fiscal Risk Statement along with the budget with an aim to bring on paper the various kinds of fiscal risk the state is exposed to. This statement would enhance transparency; aid in sound management of public finances and help in devising appropriate risk mitigation measures for the future.

To consolidate finances and create adequate provision for disposal of debt commitments in future, the government has contributed Rs 1,000 crore in Consolidated Sinking Fund (CSF) of the state within first two months.

For industry and commerce, the budget has an allocation of Rs 3,163 crore, an increase of 48.06% over 2021-22 (BE).

Among others measures, the government will set up traders’ commission with only traders and businessmen as its members. This commission would collaborate with the government in decision-making and policy formulation. The basic idea is to form policies which people of this sector actually want, to help them add value, create employment and peddle industrial development in Punjab, said the FM.

With no new taxes imposed, Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Monday presented the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s maiden budget for 2022-23 fiscal, with a total outlay of Rs 1,55,859.78 crore and a revenue deficit of Rs 12,553.80 crore.

Putting emphasis on education, health and agriculture, the government’s focus to mop up resources would be from excise revenue pegged at Rs 9,648 crore and fiscal prudence. “We will cut corners and exercise fiscal prudence. Previous governments were known for their profligacy and we would ensure not a paisa is wasted… We have saved Rs 20 crore of the state exchequer by doing away with multiple pensions of state legislators. This way we will exercise austerity measures to ensure that people’s money went back to people.”

While the government has not been able to fulfill its pre-poll promise of giving away Rs 1,000 per month to women in its maiden budget for want of funds, it has announced 75 Mohalla Clinics to be functional from August 15 and has set aside Rs 1,800 crore for 300 units of free power to be rolled out to people from July 1 onwards.

The budget has a stamp of Delhi model of AAP, and Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia was a witness to the presentation as he sat in the visitor’s gallery of the Punjab assembly. On the fiscal health front, the state finances are in a mess. Cheema blamed the previous governments for the mess as he said that the debt on the state was burgeoning and it was projected to go up to Rs 2.84 crore by the end of this fiscal.

This was for the first time that Punjab presented a paperless budget. However, as the MLAs were not able to access the budget on their phones, Congress’s Sukhpal Khaira protested that they were not able to read it as the FM delivered his speech. Speaker Kultar Sandhwan later made the printed copies of the budget available.

Cheema said it was ‘Janta’s budget’ as the government consulted the stakeholders and people of the state before preparing the budget.

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First published on: 28-06-2022 at 02:34:59 am
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