People's Party of Punjab (PPP) chief Manpreet Singh Badal on Saturday strongly opposed the move to levy five per cent cess on power bills to mop up ` 1,400 crore annually."The move is not only outrageous but also manifestation of bankruptcy of ideas. It is unheard of in fiscal management that such a cess is levied to facilitate the collection of bills of other departments. In this case, the proposal is to levy cess on electricity bill to enable the state government to recover the water, sewerage and sanitation charges. I fail to understand the logic behind the move", the former state finance minister said in a press statement.
He pointed out that he was opposed to it not only on the grounds of its being against all canons of fiscal management, but this would also put additional burden even on those power consumers were not availing the services like sewerage, especially in the rural areas.
He said as per the reports appearing in a section of the press, this "bright idea" had emanated with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal who had been making loud claims of the state being financially stable and all talk about financial crisis being mere propaganda to malign the state despite the state being under staggering debt that had already crossed Rs 1 lakh crore. The fact of the matter was that the state government was in no position to recover the bills from the consumers.
He demanded that the state government must come out with a white paper on finances as the state was going to be burdened with another tranche of big loan to finance the so called development plans which had so far failed to take off.