Budget 2020-21 is an effort towards giving stability to state and is continuation with the budgets for the last three fiscals that had a pattern to put Punjab back on track, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal Tuesday said.
“It has been our effort to give stability to Punjab economy,” Manpreet said while winding up the debate on the Budget. He said it had been his “basic duty to take the state out of financial crisis, inherited from previous SAD-BJP regime”, to stable financial situation.
He said it was after a long time that Punjab had equalled Haryana in terms of allocations. As compared to Rs 1.42 lakh crore outlay of Haryana, Punjab had an outlay of Rs 1.54 lakh crore. He said that while Revenue Expenditure estimates of Haryana were Rs 1.05 lakh crore, the same for Punjab is Rs 95,000 crore.
On the criticism by opposition SAD which says the budget mainly relied on central funds, Badal said it was the state’s share in central taxes and asked “why anybody complains if we are receiving it.”
He said Punjab was often blamed for showing receipts coming from Centre, but the reality was that Punjab was contributing 2.87 per cent in the national economy, but was getting 1.78 percent in return. The 1.1 percent which, he said, was Punjab’s right from Centre, translated into Rs 1000 crore.
Under attack from SAD for difference in Budget Estimates and Revised Estimates, Manpreet listed out figures from the budgets presented during the SAD-BJP rule. He said in 2014-15, the difference between BE and RE was 11.2 per cent, in 2015-16 it was 7.2 per cent and in 2016-17 it was 29.2 per cent. Comparatively, the difference between BE and RE in 2017-18 was 1.4 per cent, in 2018-19, it was 3.6 per cent and in 2019-20, it was 2.3 per cent.
He said the revenue deficit in 2012-13 was 137 per cent of the Budget estimates and in 2013-14 it was 274 per cent of BE.
“It is being said that debt has increased,” Manpreet said, adding that the Rs 66,000-crore debt in four budgets presented by him was well within the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 norms. The finance minister said that in the last two years of rule of SAD-BJP, there was an increase of debt to the tune of Rs 70,000.
He further highlighted that the state’s 24 per cent taxes like purchase tax, VAT were subsumed in the Goods and Services Tax. “There is no other state whose 24 per cent revenue base gete subsumed”.
Terming it a body blow and equating it with a torpedo hitting a ship, Manpreet also talked about Rs 31,000 crore cash credit limit (CCL), asking “what do we do if someone writes Rs 31000-crore loan against us in one day and which has to be serviced?”
He also patted his government for bringing down the percentage of committed liabilities (salaries, pensions, and interest components) to 72 per cent in 2019-20 from 91 per cent in 2017-18.
Earlier, AAP MLA and Leader of Opposition (LoP) Harpal Cheema called Manpreer a “juggler of statistics”. Cheema said “while the total budget size is Rs 1.5 lakh crore, the state was under a debt of Rs 2.5 lakh crore”.
He said that in all the four budgets Manpreet presented the debt increased. “Every year new loans are taken. There is no roadmap to repay loans.” Cheema said in addtiion to Rs. 2.5 lakh crore debt, Punjab owed equal amount of debt to Public Sector Undertakings and Corporations which the finance minister did not disclose.
Cheema said during his previous stint also in 2002-07, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh did not come up with a transport policy to end monopoly of private players nor was it being done now. “I don’t know what is his compulsion,” said Cheema.
Akali MLA N K Sharma said finance minister had come up with new word “primary surplus budget” If this was so, he asked, what was the need to take Rs 66000 crore loan. Sharma said government owed Rs 5500 crore towards clearing 28 per cent dearness allowance of the employees of which it had announced to clear only 6 per cent.
Calling it a “modest budegst”, Akali MLA Gurpartap Singh Wadala said the allocation for Capital Expenditure came down to Rs 10000 crore from Rs 18000 crore. Wadala said, “States don’t run like this. Money would be borrowed to repay debt, we cannot create assets.”
Sop for Anandpur Sahib
Manpreet Badal announced Rs 20 crore for Anandpur Sahib Development Authority. He said a new bypass would be constructed to decongest Anandpur Sahib during historical congregations.
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