Punjab’s near empty treasury a worry for Amarinder govt but no backing down on promises
In the white paper presented in the assembly a day before the budget proposals, the government said that apart from meeting the day-to-day challenges of keeping the treasury afloat for routine administrative expenditure, Punjab faces paucity of resources for financing the capital expenditure.punjab Updated: Jun 21, 2017 17:41 IST
A day after the Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh in Punjab said it inherited an almost empty treasury from the Akali-BJP government that ruled the state for a decade, its finance minister Manpreet Badal announced cash-guzzling freebies in line with the party manifesto, including farm debt waiver for farmers and free smartphones.
In the white paper presented in the assembly a day before the budget proposals, the government said that apart from meeting the day-to-day challenges of keeping the treasury afloat for routine administrative expenditure, Punjab faces paucity of resources for financing the capital expenditure.
“The situation is alarming,” the white paper on the state’s finances said.
It puts the outstanding debt, power bonds, loans of state entities and loan to cover cash credit limit gap at Rs 1.87-lakh crore, as on March 31, 2017. If the state guarantees are added, it jumps to Rs 2.08-lakh crore.
However, while presenting the budget, Manpreet announced plans to implement the poll promises of farm debt waiver, unemployment allowance, mobile phones, and jobs.
While Amarinder announced a debt write-off after the two white papers were tabled, his government lacks the financial wiggle room to implement most of its promises and is expected to stagger them.
The bank and cooperative loans write-off announced by Amarinder involves a liability of over Rs 20,000 crore but the finance minister has proposed an outlay of only Rs 1,500 crore for waiving the debts of distressed farmers.
In the past, too, governments in the states of Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala have presented white papers to bring out fiscal mismanagement of their predecessors and to defer or stagger implementation of their promises.