Punjab cuts fuel rates, expands farm waiver
Weeks before the crucial Lok Sabha polls, the Congress government in Punjab on Monday made a slew of announcements including fuel rate cut, loan waiver for families of debt-ridden farmers who committed suicides, scholarships for scheduled castes (SC) and other backward classes (OBC), among others.
Presenting the third budget of the Capt Amarinder Singh-led government, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal expanded the farm loan waiver scheme to bring landless farm labourers and suicide-hit farmer families under its ambit. “Loans of landless farm labourers and the families of farmers who have been forced to commit suicides will be waived in the next phase,” he said, allocating Rs 3,000 crore for the scheme.
Badal presented the state budget for 2019-20 with a total outlay of Rs1,58,493 crore with no new taxes. He projected a fiscal deficit at Rs19,658 crore (3.40% of gross state domestic product) for the coming financial year. Crops loans up to Rs 2 lakh of 5.83 lakh marginal and small farmers have been written off so far. There are roughly 2.6 lakh landless farm labourers in the state. Around 900 farmers have ended their lives in the past two years, according to different surveys. Badal also slashed the rates of petrol and diesel by Rs 5 and Re 1, respectively, from Monday midnight. “Buoyancy in revenue, along with better cash flow, has made the rationalisation of fuel rates possible,” he said.