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Punjab cabinet flags fiscal crisis: ‘Must take up pending GST share with Centre’

From bad to worse: Finance minister says if payment of state’s share of tax delayed further, it will be tough for govt to pay salaries of its employees

punjab Updated: Nov 23, 2017 10:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Capt Amarinder Singh,GST,Narendra Modi
Capt Amarinder, who chaired the cabinet meeting, said he will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in this regard and seek immediate release of Rs 1,464 crore pending GST compensation. (Representative image )

Taking a note of the worsening fiscal position of the state, the Punjab cabinet on Wednesday urged chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to take up with the Centre the issue of pending GST payments, delay in which was causing immense financial stress.

The CM, who chaired the cabinet meeting, said he will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in this regard and seek immediate release of Rs 1,464 crore pending GST compensation besides the state’s share of Rs 2,000 crore from the Integrated Goods Service Tax (IGST) collected by the Centre for interstate businesses.

The cabinet approved amendments to provide relief to debt-ridden farmers by promoting crop diversification and rural infrastructural development in the state.

Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal informed the Cabinet about the deteriorating fiscal position of the state and raised apprehension that if the Centre delays the payment of the state’s GST share further, it would get tough to pay even the routine salaries of government employees, sources said.

The cabinet endorsed Manpreet’s concern over the delay in payment of salaries to employees and the state’s inability to meet critical expenses in the absence of timely payments of GST and IGST share.

Manpreet informed the cabinet that the state had yet to receive Rs 524 crore against GST for July-August 2017 and Rs 960 crore for September-October. Also, it was pointed out that the entire IGST amount was being collected by the central government under the new tax regime and a total of Rs 98,000 crore had accumulated on this count till October.

“The Centre is yet to release a total of Rs 3,600 crore to Punjab on account of GST and IGST. The cabinet strongly criticised the delay,” the finance minister told the media after the meeting.

Nod to increase rural development fund

The cabinet approved amendments to provide relief to debt-ridden farmers by promoting crop diversification and rural infrastructural development in the state. The necessary bills related to these would be introduced in the forthcoming Vidhan Sabha session.

The amendments relate to increasing of rural development fee rate from 2% to 3%. The state government has planned to provide the money collected through this hike as a relief to farmers under stress.

It also approved the introduction of the draft of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914 (Amendment) Bill, 2017, for legislation in the forthcoming Vidhan Sabha session. Bringing foreign liquor to Punjab in quantities exceeding 12 bottles of 750 millimetre each would now be considered a non-bailable offence. Also, vehicles carrying more than three cases of liquor would be confiscated.

Funds released to buy uniform for firemen

In the wake of the Ludhiana tragedy where firemen were not having uniforms to combat the flames, the cabinet on Wednesday ordered immediate release of funds for the purchase of uniform for fire department personnel. The cabinet also asked local bodies minister Navjot Sidhu to assess how an insurance cover can be provided to firemen.

First Published: Nov 23, 2017 09:48 IST