With the 14th Finance Commission expected to submit its report in October, Punjab is racing against time to utilise Rs 1,000 crore, which is part of the total grant allocated by the last finance commission. The money was allocated to the state under various heads including agriculture, water supply and sanitation, Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
Sources in the state Finance department say the government was hurrying as fresh allocations will be made only if a state has utilised grants allocated in the last finance commission. With Punjab now asking for Rs 10,000 crore from the commission as grants, it does not want to lose the balance of Rs 1,000 crore at any cost.
Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa told The Indian Express, “We are in a rush to utilise Rs 1,000 crore as we want to be ready with proof of utilisation before the 14th Finance Commission submits its report. We do not want to lose Rs 1,000 crore. It is priority right now.”
With just 20 days left before October begins, the process of utilisation has been expedited.
Dhindsa said the state government has requested the commission to recommend state-specific grants of Rs 9,639 crore for the period 2015-20. It has also demanded that weightage should be given to SC/ST population of the state and GSDP of the state to make devolution criteria fair.
Incidentally, Punjab tops the list of state with SC/ST population constituting 31.9 per cent of the total population.