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STATING THAT the Punjab government will help Panjab University overcome its financial problems, state’s Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Thursday blamed the “lack of political leadership” for the university’s ongoing crisis and said the government would help the varsity once its planned white paper on state’s finances was out.
Speaking at an Idea Exchange at The Indian Express office, Badal said, “We accept the responsibility. Whatever, it is a pure lack of political leadership. We have made a tamasha of it. Is Rs 20 crore any worthy amount? Let me get white paper out first. Once it is out, we will have to do something,” he added.
Shifting the blame on the previous government for restricting the state’s contribution to PU, Badal said the Akali government had enough money to spend on building memorials but not help the university. “In the last one year, the Akali government spent Rs 2,000 crore for building memorials in Punjab and Rs 180 crore for Tirath Yatra scheme,” he said. “Does it make sense? Rs 20 crore for Panjab University and Rs 2,000 crore for building memorials!”
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in a recent communication to the PU Vice-Chancellor has asked Badal to look into the problems faced by the university. The university is asking both the Central and state governments to increase their fund allocation so the university can meet its expenses.
According to an agreement, the Punjab government has to pay 40 per cent of the funds for maintenance deficit of the university while the Central government has to fund the remaining 60 per cent. However, currently the Punjab government has restricted its contribution to just Rs 20 crore.
Asked whether the Punjab government would revise the limit of Rs 20-crore contribution to the university, Badal cited the state’s financial position and said the government was tied in the knots and had different sectors to look after. “We have salaries to pay, pensions to pay, interests to service. That is why we are saying that somehow somebody will have to say right things and take decisions which have to be taken. This can’t go on in perpetuity,” he said, referring to the state’s contribution towards the university’s budget.