Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Sunil Kumar Jakhar have described the budget, presented in the state assembly on Wednesday, as lacklustre, listless and betrayal with the people.
They said Punjab finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa seemed to have resorted to accountancy rather than coming out with a cohesive approach to improve the economy of the state.
Reacting strongly to the absence of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal from the assembly at the time of presentation of the budget, Bajwa said it was simply unprecedented and reflected the importance he gives to this exercise.
It seemed Badal was concerned more with other issues for the reasons best known to him rather than the future of the state of which he is the chief minister as the budget amounted to the policy statement of the government on the political economy.
Jakhar said it was a completely hollow and disappointing budget which lacked in substance. The budget appeared largely dependent upon the central government’s grants in various shapes which the SAD-BJP government had received.
There has been no mention of how to increase the revenue stream and curb the rising fiscal deficit. “The government has also made no mention in the budget to fulfil its promises made in the manifesto such as of laptops and tablets to the students,” said Jakhar.
Bajwa said it was interesting that the government had itself admitted that the budget size of `73,593 crore was illusory and the the effective size was just `58,593 crore because of the provision of `15,000 crore for ways and means transactions.
Bajwa asked the government to come out with details of the resource mobilisation as they were missing in the budget speech. In the absence of resource mobilisation, it was just a meaningless exercise, he said.
He criticised the government for the unfulfilled promises with particular reference to laptops for students and said the government had given a quiet burial to this scheme as there was no provision for it in the budget.
He came down heavily on the government for the burgeoning debt, which is estimated to go up to `1.13 crore by the end of the financial year. What was all the more shocking was that the interest payment had taken over the repayment of loan. As per the budget speech, the total debt servicing expenditure for 2012-13 was `10.5 crore consisting of interest payment of `6.8 crore and repayment of loan at `3,674 crore. This was a pointer to the direction the economy was heading, he said.