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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

Punjab Budget 2014-15: Rehabilitation centres, skill development for youth

PTI  Chandigarh, July 16, 2014
First Published: 19:10 IST(16/7/2014) | Last Updated: 20:09 IST(16/7/2014)

Focussing on youth, Punjab Budget2014-15 has earmarked Rs. 500 crore for skill development and Rs. 100 crore for setting up rehabilitation centres for drug addicts in each district, while refraining from imposing fresh taxes.

Presenting the SAD-BJP led state government's third state budget, finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa on Wednesday tabled in state Assembly the budget with total size of Rs. 73,593 crore, which also includes Rs. 15,000 crore towards ways and means of transactions for current fiscal.

The effective size of the state budget was Rs. 58,593 crore, he said.

The minister projected revenue deficit of Rs. 4,252.63 crore for current fiscal which will be 1.16 per cent of GSDP.

Facing severe criticism during the Lok Sabha elections 2014 over rampant drug abuse in the state, the state government has proposed to set up rehabilitation centres for drug addicts in each district at a cost of Rs. 100 crore.

"The state government is committed to eradicate drug menace in effective manner...the state is in the process of operationalisation of five state of the art 50 bedded drug de-addition centres at Bathinda, Jalandhar and Amritsar at a cost of Rs. 25 crore. The government now proposes to set up rehabilitation centres in each districts at a cost of Rs. 100 crore," Dhindsa said in his Budget speech.

"We are confident that in coming two years, we will wipe out this scourge from out state," he said.

The finance minister has kept focus on providing skills to youth by utilising the training capacity of various governments and private institutions as well as engaging reputed private training providers.

"The state government shall make efforts towards skilling approximately 3 lakh youth at a cost of over Rs. 500 crore during 2014-15," he said.

Dhindsa said the government would strengthen and upgrade existing skill training infrastructure.

"The state government has signed MoU with Tata Sons towards improving and upgrading 6 it is. The state government also proposes to set up a multi skill development centres in partnership with private sector in Ludhiana with training capacity of 10,000 candidates per annum," he said.

For providing free power to farmers, BPL and SC families, the state government has earmarked Rs. 5,300 crore as power subsidy for 2014-15 as against Rs. 4,815 crore during last fiscal, said Dhindsa.

To ensure farm growth, Dhindsa proposed programmes including Rs. 500 crore for strengthening farm and allied sector under RKVY.

He also announced to dole out Rs. 82 crore under National Horticulture Mission, Rs. 72 crore under National Food Security Mission, Rs. 33 crore under National Mission of Agriculture Extension and Technology, Rs. 27 crore under National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture and Rs. 5 crore under National Oilseeds and Oil Palm mission.

Dhindsa projected total revenue receipts, including own tax revenue of Rs. 44,893.68 crore as against revenue expenditure of Rs. 49,146.31 crore for 2014-15.

He ascribed the non-achievement of targeted revenue deficit during last fiscal to "low" tax revenue growth.

The fiscal deficit of the state has been projected at Rs. 10,372.82 crore, 2.84 per cent of GSDP for current fiscal.

Notably, the state government has failed in achieving revenue deficit target of Rs. 1,746.56 crore for 2013-14 as the deficit has shot up to Rs. 5,259.06 crore for 2013-14 as per revised budget estimates.

With total debt servicing being projected at Rs. 11,496.25 crore including interest payment and loan repayment, the state's outstanding debt (excluding reserve funds) has been projected at Rs. 1,05,483.37 crore, 28.88 per cent of GSDP for 2014-15.

The size of annual plan has been projected at Rs. 20,100 crore, up 25 per cent from Rs. 16,123 crore in 2013-14.

Out of the annual Plan, 16.08 per cent of funds have been earmarked for power sector, followed by 13.38 per cent for transport, while 9.79 per cent and 6.40 per cent of funds have been kept for rural development and agriculture and allied activities, as per budget.

For its ambitious Atta-Dal scheme-subsidised food grain scheme, the state budget made provision of Rs. 400 crore.

"In the Annual Plan 2014-15, Rs. 400 crore has been allocated for New Atta Dal Scheme and it is estimated that 8,70,000 tonnes of wheat and 75,000 tonnes of pulses shall be distributed during current year," said Dhindsa.

"With a view to focus on efforts of government departments on the outcome from funds spent on various schemes, it has been decided to implement performance budgeting for state annual plan from current year. NABCON, the consulting arm of NABARD is being engaged to prepare blue print of the scheme," Dhindsa said in the budget.

For power sector, an outlay of Rs. 3,200 crore has been earmarked, including Rs. 1,150 crore - for transmission, Rs. 750 crore - for generation, Rs. 1,250 crore for distribution and Rs. 500 crore  for Re-structured Accelerated Power Development Reforms Programme, said Dhindsa.

A sum of Rs. 3,024 crore is proposed to be spent on road infrastructure in the year 2014-15, including an investment of Rs. 1,291 crore through PIDB, he said.

A sum of Rs. 8,552 crore shall be invested by the Punjab government on improving the Irrigation Infrastructure in Punjab in next three years, said Dhindsa.

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He added that Rs. 3,000 crore shall be spent in next three years on modernisation of Canal System, benefiting 9.21 lakh acre area in Punjab, Rs. 2,762 crore shall be spent for lining of water course for providing uninterrupted, efficient and fair distribution of canal water to farmers.

"A sum of Rs. 960 crore shall be spent in next three years to tackle the problem of water logging in Mukatsar Sahib, Fazilka, Faridkot and Ferozepur District to reclaim 2 lakh acre area, he said.

Dhindsa said to develop the human resource in the state, an education city is being planned on an area of approximately 1,600 acres with a cost of Rs. 4,000 crore.

"This education city will have educational facilities of international standards from school age to research level, including branch campuses of leading international universities," he said.

Dhindsa said Chandigarh International Civil Air Terminal at Mohali will be commissioned by December 2014 while for civil airport at Sahnewal near Ludhiana, 7.5 acre of land handed over to Airports Authority of India for works which will help to land flights even during low visibility conditions.

Additional land of 322 acres is being acquired for the extension and upgradation of this airfield to handle bigger jet aircrafts, he said.

The plan allocation for school education has been increased from Rs. 1,275 crore in 2013-14 to Rs. 1,859 crore in 2014-15, which includes Rs. 85 crore to be provided by PIDB.

The state government has earmarked a sum of Rs. 548 crore for rural development, Rs. 1,218 crore urban development, Rs. 1,285 crore for irrigation, he said detailing budgetary allocation for various other departments.

Earlier, immediately after the question hour, opposition Congress party led by Sunil Jakhar walked out of the House, demanding more time from Punjab Assembly Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal for speaking on state concerning issues, including power and water.

Jakhar demanded from Speaker to allow Congress MLAs to speak on ongoing power, water crisis and drug menace in the state, which was disallowed by Atwal.

"Show magnanimity. You are the custodian of the dignity," Jakhar said while urging Speaker to give more time.

Speaker said, "you do not want to give notices and are demanding discussion now. If rules permit then I will allow."

Protesting Congress MLAs rushed to the well of the House and raised slogans against Punjab government on power and water issue.

However, all Congress MLAs returned when the finance minister started his Budget speech.

During the budget speech, power went off for a brief period in the Assembly at 1142hrs.

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