Fund-crunched Punjab has managed to prevent its expenditure from skyrocketing during the current fiscal with the government seeking supplementary grants of only Rs 1600 crore compared to Rs 25,000 crore for 2016-2017 fiscal.
The supplementary demand for the current fiscal were passed by the Punjab Assembly during its ongoing budget session on Thursday.
Finance Minister Manpreet Badal told the Assembly that the difference between the actual spending and the estimated budget has only been Rs 1600 crore.
In fact, the state’s demand for supplementary grant this fiscal has been the lowest in the last six years. The Congress government has almost managed to stick to the budget estimates of current fiscal and has over-spent only Rs 1600 crore. As per the data available with the finance department the supplementary grant in 2012-13 was Rs 9808 crore, in 2013-14 it was Rs 5101 crore. Similarly, in 2014-15 the supplementary grant sought was Rs 8211 crore, in 2015-16 the grant was Rs 5672 crore and during the election year (2016-17) it was at the highest at Rs 25,199 crore.
Sources said the SAD-BJP government had also left the coffers empty with legacy of pending bills worth Rs 13,000 crore. The government has since cleared bills worth Rs 6,000 crore, but the bills worth Rs 7,000 crore are still pending with the finance department.
A functionary of the finance department said the government has been able to stay within the budget as the budgetary estimates made by them were accurate compared to previous years where the revenue expectation were inflated. He said this was achieved not only by preparing the accurate budget estimates but also checking on the expenditure.
The government had to walk a tight rope to stay within it means.The state was not able to pay salaries to its employees on time for three months in the current fiscal. During the current fiscal the total budget estimate was at Rs 81021 crore. The Assembly is set to pass its next budget on Saturday. The Finance Minister has already indicated that it would be a deficit budget not only this year, but also for next three years. It would be in the fourth fiscal of the government that the state would be at ease as far as the expenses are concerned.
Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Thursday also said that the Centre has reopened the issue of the alleged Rs 31,000 crore food scam after pleas from the state government. He said the amount, treated as term loan on the state government by Centre, was being relooked into. “If anyone is found guilty, he would be brought into the ambit of the law,” Badal said.
The issue of the alleged Rs 31,000 crore food scam reverberated in the House yet again on Thursday when AAP member Aman Arora sought a clarification from the FM. Punjab has has been paying an interest of Rs 270 crore every month against the term loan of Rs 31,000 crore on account of alleged food scam.