Citing the huge revenue losses suffered by the Punjab government on account of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown, the Cabinet Tuesday sought adequate compensation from the Centre to tide over the difficult times.
The Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, reviewed the fiscal situation and noted that the scenario was grave amid the decline in revenue collections in the first quarter of 2020-21 and estimated losses for the full financial year.
A presentation made to the Cabinet by the finance department showed that the state’s own tax revenue collections for the April-June 2020 period had gone down by a whopping 51 per cent, with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) losses standing at 61 per cent as against the budgetary estimates for this period. The GST and the VAT (value added tax) collections for the quarter together went down by 54 per cent. The decline in total revenue receipts for April-June period was 21 per cent.
The council of ministers further noted with concern that in terms of non-tax revenue collections of the state, the shortfall against budgetary estimates for the quarter was a massive 68 per cent.
The situation was extremely grim, the cabinet observed, calling for fiscal support from the Centre to compensate for these huge losses.
The revenue loss would badly impact not just the battle against COVID-19, which was now peaking in the state, but also obstruct the implementation of key schemes of the state government, in addition to affecting routine expenses, including payment of salaries, the council of ministers pointed out. The Government of India needs to come out with urgent financial help for the state government to help Punjab tide over the current crisis.
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