People’s Party of Punjab chief Manpreet Singh Badal on Wednesday assailed the budget presented today as not only the manifestation of confusion in the government at every level, but was also self-contradictory.
“The people have virtually been left to their own fate. There is no indication that the government will fulfil the promises made by the ruling Akali Dal in its 2012 manifesto,” he said.
Reacting to the budget, he said, “Finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa has admitted that the details were awaited about the impact of the restructuring of the 66 centrally sponsored schemes. At the same time, the negligible increase in annual plan size from 20,100 in 2014-15 to Rs 21,174 in 2015-16 crore has been modest in view of the expected reduction in central assistance.”
The former finance minister pointed out that on the one hand, the state government had claimed on the first page of the address that the state would herald in a new dawn with the support of reform minded NDA government at the Centre. “One fails to understand the basis for this anticipated support when the situation is now clear after the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission and the same had been admitted by Dhindsa,” he said.
“There was again a big contradiction as while the fiscal stress had been admitted on page 2, it had been asserted on the very next page that the 14th Finance Commission has also recognised the fiscal turnaround of the state due to efforts made by our government and has therefore removed it from the list of states needing revenue deficit grant”, he added.
He reminded the government that all along, there had been efforts to get special assistance from the Centre in view of the burgeoning debt burden. “Not only that, there is another paradox while stating the declining share of Punjab in central taxes has constrained the overall resource position in the state and that this position is set to take a better turn with the 14th Finance Commission recommendations which has resulted in increased devolution albeit at the cost of reduced plan allocation. It is clear that the government is groping in the dark,” he added.
He said even so far as the budget size was concerned, it had been stated that it was Rs 79,314 crore for 2015 but the effective size was Rs 61,814 crore as the first figure contained a budget provision of Rs 17,500 crore towards ways and means transactions for the current year.Last but not the least, there was no mention of resource mobilisation as the need had not been felt due to its being a non development budget, he said.