The Punjab government on Sunday urged the Centre to provide the state a financial package of Rs 15,000 crore in the coming Union budget, including a financial aid of Rs 100 crore to check cancer penetration in the Malwa belt.
A sufficient budgetary allocation for the payment of central sales tax compensation during 2016-17 was also demanded by Punjab finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa at the Centre’s pre-budget consultation meeting of finance ministers in Delhi. The meeting was presided over by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley.
Dhindsa said environmental resources had been overexploited and degraded, especially soil health and water that led to a high degree of economic distress among the farmers and also the landless workers, forcing them to commit suicide.
Punjab, he said, was equally into industrial crisis mainly due to tax holidays given by the Centre to the neighbouring hill states. This had led to the closure and flight of 274 industrial units involving investment of Rs 3,675 crore to the tax favoured states, he added.
Dhindsa said Punjab was a fit state along with Kerala and West Bengal for debt relief. He said the 14th Finance Commission had overlooked the most deserving case of the state for debt relief in Punjab, citing the power subsidy to agriculture sector as the reason.
The 14th Finance Commission’s decision to reject Punjab for debt relief stood in contradiction to the recent statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in favour of subsidies to the agriculture sector.
Dhindsa also sought the waiver of the reimbursement of Rs 298 crore for deployment of paramilitary forces in the state.
He said the state government should be allowed to raise market borrowings as per its fund flow requirements within the overall fiscal deficit limit. There should be no quarterly limits in this regard, headed.
Refer ring to the recommended raising of the ceiling of professional tax from Rs 2,500 to Rs 12,000 per annum by the 14th Finance Commission, he said the limit should be uniform for all states and also supported appropriate constitutional amendment as recommended by the commission.