Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal today said the government will come out with a whitepaper on the state’s finances and alleged that there was “systematic loot” of resources during the SAD-BJP rule. The Amarinder Singh-led government will take some important decisions in its first cabinet meeting tomorrow, he said after assuming office here.
For the meeting, the state government has prepared a 150 point agenda pertaining to reforms in governance, economic reforms and eliminating VIP culture among others, Manpreet said. The main objectives of the new government would be to streamline expenditure, bring down revenue deficit and raise additional resources to put the state’s fiscal situation on track, the newly-inducted minister said.
On his party accusing the SAD-BJP of “mismanaging” state finances, Manpreet, the estranged nephew of former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, said the present dispensation will come out with a white paper on it.
“We will be presenting a white paper. I have already asked officials to prepare it on the state’s finance that we have inherited,” he said.
“There was systematic loot of Punjab’s resources and its legitimate revenue was siphoned-off to cartels in transport, sand and mining sectors,” Manpreet alleged.
The minister said the state will have a special audit of government expenditure in the last three years.
“We will be going for a third party audit of government expenses. A lot of work was undertaken without administrative or financial approvals,” he said.
A special audit of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited will be done, there has been a lot of mismanagement in the power utility, Manpreet said.
In the wake of the Congress’s poll promise to waive agricultural debt in Punjab, he said the government will set up a committee of experts to assess the quantum of farm debt in the state.
“We are yet to assess institutional debt, outstanding farm loans of cooperative banks and Arthiyas, and how much of it is farm debt,” he said.
On farm loans in banks, he said the government is competent to negotiate with the financial institutions and can make payments and take over the farm debt.
Manpreet said the new government will continue to give free power for farmers. He accused the SAD-BJP government of leaving the state with a staggering Rs 1.75 lakh crore debt. Yesterday, after assuming charge, Amarinder said he was committed to fulfilling all his electoral promises and his government would take several important decisions in the first cabinet meeting. The Chief Minister had reiterated his promise to constitute a Special Task Force (STF) end the drugs menace in the state within four weeks.