The cash-starved Parkash Singh Badal government is unlikely to achieve even the modest revenue receipts targets it had set for the current financial year, it has emerged with officials giving final touches to the 2016-17 budget likely to be presented on March 15.
The value added tax (VAT) barely grew at about 2% this year. The sluggish growth has led to at least Rs 1,000 crore shortfall in achieving the budgetary estimate of generating Rs 17,851 crore from VAT, the primary source of revenue, government sources said.
The growth in VAT was so slow that between April and September, the VAT collection was about Rs 7,674 crore. This is in sharp contrast to the period 2009-10 to 2014-15 when the cumulative growth rate of VAT in the state was 15%.
Sources say the revenue receipts targets—budgetary estimates — pertaining to stamps and registration (Rs 2,700 crore), taxes on vehicles (Rs1,500 crore) and electricity duty (Rs 2,050 crore) are unlikely to be achieved even as these targets were marginally higher than the revised estimates of the 2014-15 fiscal.
“The VAT didn’t grow at the pace we expected. Yes, there is a shortfall due to the slowdown in economy,” finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa told Hindustan Times.
While the purchase tax received from procurement agencies is also lower than that of last financial year, the government is drawing consolation from the marginal growth in receipts from excise and is likely to achieve the Rs 5,100 crore target.
Sources say the state received over Rs 200 crore more this year in its share of central taxes, which came as a much-needed breather.
But the committed liabilities of the government continued to rise steadily. During this fiscal, the salaries and wages bill shot up to Rs 1,800 crore, while the pension and retirement benefit expenditure is set to cross the Rs 7,000-crore mark.
With the decline in receipts, the revenue and fiscal deficit are set to rise further.
No laptops; Rs 100 cr for computer education
The government has officially decided to bury its much-talked-about election manifesto promise of giving free laptops with data cards to students of Classes 11 and 12 of government-run schools.
Now, in its last year, the government is likely to allocate Rs 100 crore exclusively for computer education. The government will provide new computers to schools in a phased manner.
There are about 1,600 senior secondary schools in Punjab with computer labs.