SAD govt diverted ₹5,000-crore central funds for tents, volleyball kits: Manpreet Badal | punjab | Hindustan Times
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SAD govt diverted ₹5,000-crore central funds for tents, volleyball kits: Manpreet Badal

FM says manpower audit on to revamp government departments

punjab Updated: Jul 18, 2017 08:58 IST
HT Correspondent
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh (HT File)

After local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal also claimed on Monday that the previous SAD-BJP government diverted Rs 5,000 crore central funds for “showering volleyball and other sports kits, tents and making drains” ahead of the state assembly elections.

Talking to the media on the sidelines of the polling for the Presidential elections, he said the Rs 31,000 cash credit limit was not the only “diversion of funds” in the books. “We are conducting a probe into all the expenses. They left us with pending bills of Rs 13,000 crore soon after we took over.”

He added, “On the Rs 31,000 debt legacy on account of the cash credit limit, we are expecting some relief from the Centre. The food department officials have met the Union ministry and requested it to consider Punjab’s case. We hope to get relief to the tune of Rs 6,000 to Rs 8,000 crore.”

Though buoyed over the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Manpreet said the new tax regime has left very little legroom for state governments to introduce new taxes.

Manpower audit of depts

“Other than a few local levies, no fresh taxes can be imposed. So we are trying to cut down on costs,” he said, adding that the state government has ordered a manpower audit of all departments to restructure them.

“The manpower audit of a few departments has shown large discrepancies. The department does not know who is doing what, what is he being paid for and from where. It will help us restructure them,” Manpreet said.

Also, a part of the cost-cutting exercise, he said, is to settle pending litigation with the government.

“Our employees are in litigation with us. We are in litigation with rice shellers and other industrial units. We want to clear all pending liabilities and litigations by offering one-time settlement. Every department has pending liabilities — be it value added tax (VAT) dues or disputed C-forms. We are ready to waive off a part of it. As for litigation, why should our own employees be aggrieved with the government. We are ready to address their complaints against promotions or increments,” the minister said.

Manpreet, who as finance minister in the SAD-BJP government had advised the government against extending retirement age of employees to defer payment of retirement benefits, said he still believes it makes better economics to hire seven fresh faces than retain those on highest pay scale.

“The proposal is still under consideration of the government and the cabinet has yet to take a final call on it,” he said.

RBI has to tell banks to write off farm loans

Asked when will the government notify the farm debt waiver, Manpreet said the expert group, headed by T Haque, has yet to give its final report. “After we have the details, we will meet the state level bankers’ committee (SLBC) to work out a one-time settlement (OTS) for the government. Finally, it is the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which has to tell banks to do it and convert the crop loans of farmers into term loan for the government,” he added.