During 2022-23 fiscal, the Punjab Government would have to pay Rs 22,962 crore towards power subsidy to different categories which is a record payment to be paid to the power utility by the government.
While the government has estimated that it would end up paying Rs 15,846 crore for power subsidy during the current fiscal, an amount of Rs 7,117.86 crore is due from the previous fiscal. This amount also includes the cost that will be borne by the state to provide 300 free units to every house and would cost the exchequer Rs 1800 crore, Finance Minister Harpal Cheema said. However, power experts say that the government would end up paying Rs 3,000 crore as there are several existing categories that also get 300 free units.
Cheema said that the government would continue paying subsidies for free power to farmers in the state. The government would incur an expenditure of Rs 6,947 crore on free farm power and Rs 2,503 while giving subsidies to the industry.
The government already has a revenue deficit of Rs 12,554 crore and would have to handle the Rs 24,352.29 crore fiscal liability passed on to the government by its predecessor. Out of this, Rs 13,759 crore includes non-payment of arrears of the sixth pay commission while Rs 7,117.86 crore is the liability towards the state’s power utility.
The previous government could not discharge the unpaid pending liabilities of Rs 1,747.57 crore (from 2016-17) under the atta-dal scheme and it increased to Rs 2,274.43 crore in the last fiscal. An amount of Rs 1200 crore is pending towards the loan waiver scheme, according to the white paper on finances of the incumbent government.
The AAP government also plans to give Rs 1,000 per month to women and is likely to generate a fat bill of Rs 12,000 crore annually.
The state already has a liability of Rs 31,171 crore annually towards salaries, Rs 20,122 crore towards interest payments and Rs 15,145 crore towards pensions and retiral benefits. It will also have to pay Rs 27,927 crore towards repayments of advances and loans and Rs 20,000 crore towards repayment of ways and means advances.
The GST compensation from the Centre would end on June 30 and the government is banking on Rs 9500 crore from excise. The state also expects to receive Rs 350 crore from sand mining even though ahead of elections AAP leaders claimed to make Rs 10,000 crore from mining alone.
Cheema said that the government has already fulfilled four out of the five promises made during polls – 300 units of free power, good quality education, mohalla clinics, ex gratia of Rs 1 crore to martyrs and Rs 1,000 to women every month. “Only one is left. We will do that when we have funds,” he said.
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