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Congress comes down heavily on Punjab government for huge debt

Blaming the SAD-BJP government for the poor financial health of Punjab in the assembly, opposition Congress alleged that the coalition regime had "ruined" the state.Congress MLA and former minister Laal Singh said the government had pushed the state into an enormous debt of Rs 1.67 lakh crore.

chandigarh Updated: Jun 26, 2012 19:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

Blaming the SAD-BJP government for the poor financial health of the state in the assembly on Monday, the opposition Congress alleged that the coalition had ruined the state.

Initiating a debate on the budgetary proposals made by the government last week, Congress MLA and former minister Laal Singh said the government had pushed the state into an enormous debt of Rs 1.67 lakh crore; no other state in the country was in such a financial mess.

Rejecting the budget, the opposition party said it had set alarm bells ringing in the state.

Talking about the financial indicators, Laal Singh said the revenue deficit as on March 31 was Rs 5,584 crore, which was Rs 1,748 crore in 2007 when the SAD-BJP government had taken over from the Congress.

He said the fiscal deficit was Rs 9,633 crore, which had almost doubled from Rs 4,383 crore five years ago. "Shockingly, by March 31 next year, Punjab would be under a debt of Rs 1.67 lakh crore, of which Rs 87,518 crore would be of the state government and Rs 79,591 crore of government-owned boards, corporations and public sector undertakings," he said, adding that as per comptroller and auditor general's report, of 31 PSUs in the state, 22 were under huge debt and were no longer viable.

"The government's projected income is Rs 38,043 crore, which includes Rs 9,000 crore of central grants, and the expenditure is Rs 41,166 crore, so from where would the remaining over Rs 3,000 crore come," he wondered.

Around 90% of the total revenue receipts of the government would go into committed expenditure for paying salaries, pensions, interests on loans and subsidies. "The government is left with just 10% to run its affairs, and in the absence of any available funds, it is procuring more loans," claimed Laal Singh.

It was also pointed out that every day the government was required to pay over Rs 18-crore interest on loans, and Rs 555 crore every month. The Congress also asked the government to reply on the news report about taxes amounting to Rs 500 crore being siphoned off.

Comparing Punjab's financial health with Haryana, Laal Singh said that in 2011, the Punjab government proposed an annual plan of Rs 11,500 crore, but was in a huge shortfall as there was an expenditure of 64% only, whereas in Haryana the plan was of Rs 13,200 crore and the expenditure reached Rs 15,254 crore. In the current budget, Punjab has proposed an annual plan of Rs 14,000 crore while Haryana has proposed a plan of Rs 16,549 crore. "Let us see where you reach this time," he said sarcastically.

"The coalition is answerable to the people as to how would you cover up a huge revenue gap; are you planning to impose taxes in the near future or have you devised any other method which you don't want to disclose at this stage," said Laal Singh, concluding his party's viewpoint. He also condemned the government on its proposal to raise Rs 4,000 crore by selling 33% properties.

'R18-crore daily bill'
"Just as everyone gets newspapers in the morning, the finance minister gets a bill of Rs 18 crore, the daily interest liability on the government. I wonder how he is able to have bed tea after seeing such a hefty bill every day," said Laal Singh, taking a dig at Dhindsa.

First Published: Jun 26, 2012 13:02 IST