Punjab finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa on Wednesday acknowledged non-payment of taxes prevailing in the state, asserting a huge gap in meeting the tax revenue collection “due to various factors”.
“There are some loopholes that need to be plugged to check tax pilferage,” Dhindsa said during an interaction with the media at the Chandigarh Press Club here.
He said there was no data available that could reveal the tax pilferage. The minister said that taking the revenue growth to more than 12% would be his government’s biggest challenge for the upcoming budget for the financial year 2016-17.
He said the state’s next pay commission would soon be set up for which the terms and references would have to be revised as these were earlier rejected by the Centre. It would take a year or so to set up the pay commission, he added.
Agreeing that the state government was mortgaging its assets, he said that so far it had transferred the assets like “old buildings” worth more than Rs 2,000 crore to either the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) or the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority to generate revenue capital. The minister maintained that the rate of increase in debt had lowered to 32% from 45% in 2002.
The cash-starved state has been facing overdrafts more than once in the present fiscal, raising loans from the Reserve Bank of India.
Dhindsa said the 14th finance commission had done great injustice to Punjab by not acknowledging the free power subsidy to farmers while deciding the revenue deficit grant to the state. “If we are giving huge subsidies and sops to industrialists, why not to farmers,” he asked.