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Punjab budget lacks pragmatic approach, is a mere rehash of figures: Opposition

Sharing a word of caution, former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said the state government “cannot depend on GST (goods and services tax) for long”.

punjab Updated: Mar 27, 2018 22:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab budget 2018,manpreet Badal,Amarinder Singh
Kanwar Sandhu (left), MLA of the principal opposition Aam Aadmi Party; and former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa of the SAD (HT Photos)

Former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday said in the assembly that the budget proposals for 2018-19 are a replica of the Congress manifesto and don’t have a “pragmatic approach”.

In the speech during the debate on the budget presented by finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal last week, Dhindsa said, “In one year, the Congress government has failed to take a start. Liabilities have almost doubled.”

Sharing a word of caution, Dhindsa said the state government “cannot depend on GST (goods and services tax) for long”. He said the state would get a steady increase only for five years, and one year has passed. “After four years, annual revenue from GST is expected to fall drastically, by Rs 12,000 crore; then, the government will not be in a position to even give salaries and run day-to-day affairs.” He asked the government to make arrangements in advance, streamline the tax collection; “otherwise, things will go out of control.”

He rued that “the good work done by the SAD-BJP government in the previous ten years finds no mention in the speeches of Congress leaders”. He further claimed, “All schemes announced in the first budget of the Congress government last year have failed to take off as the implementation rate is just 20%. The government says debt piled up during the SAD-BJP regime. That’s a misnomer, because when we took over the state was under debt. There is a deficit in the budget, of Rs 13,400 crore, during the current financial year, and the state’s liability in the past one year has increased manifold.”

In his comment, Kanwar Sandhu, MLA of the principal opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), too flayed the budget. He said he had seen Manpreet Badal present six budgets (including his stint in the SAD-BJP regime), and “every time he has shown sabz bagh (rosy picture) to the people of Punjab, but his budget has been a rehash of figures of the previous budgets”.

“The actual debt waiver passed on to the farmers is a small percentage of what was promised (Rs 9,500 crore). Actual debt on farmers is Rs 90,000 crore, and the announced amount is just 11% of that,” he added.

Referring to a promise of taking milk production in Punjab to 190 lakh litres a year, Sandhu said there was no mention of the availability of funds for that. “Adulterated milk is a big problem in the state — 30% of the milk sold is adulterated — so how will the government deal with that?”

He also asked where the money would come from for the skill development university promised in the name of Guru Gobind Singh in Chamkaur Sahib.

First-time MLA Davinder Ghubaya of the Congress too got a chance to speak, and praised the CM and the FM.

First Published: Mar 27, 2018 21:09 IST