March 6, 2024 - PatialaPolitics



Responding to various issues raised by members of Punjab Vidhan Sabha during a debate on the Punjab Budget 2024-25, the Finance Minister Advocate Harpal Singh Cheema on Wednesday said that the Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann led Punjab has successfully fulfilled 4 out of 5 guarantees made to the people of Punjab.


The Finance Minister said that the guarantees fulfilled within two years include improvements in health infrastructure by setting up 829 Aam Aadmi clinics, improving education infrastructure by setting up Schools of Eminence, free power to 90 percent domestic consumers with the provision of 300 units of free power, and enhanced grant of Rs 1 crore for families of martyred soldiers. He said that the remaining guarantee would also be fulfilled soon.


The Finance Minister said that the MLAs of the Congress party are not aware of the fulfillment of these guarantees as they are related to the common people of the state. He said that because most of the MLAs of the Congress party belong to the elite category, they neither used to visit Aam Aadmi clinic, nor do their children study in government schools, and the Power bill of their houses exceeds 300 units. He said that this may be the reason that Leader of Opposition mentioned only single gurantee and failed to talk about other guarantees fulfilled by the Punjab Government.


He said that some members of the opposition said that some important aspects such as wages and salaries were not given in the budget. He said that the finance department has prepared all the documents related to the budget with great effort, but perhaps these members of the opposition did not read the budget at a glance carefully, due to which they remained ignorant of many aspects.


He said that some members of opposition had questioned that in which departments the jobs have been given, in response to which the Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann has sent the list to the Leader of the Opposition through the Speaker Vidhan Sabha. He said that some members said that the budget for education has decreased while the education budget has witnessed an increase of 11.5 percent. He said that in the same way agriculture was discussed in which the revised budget of last year was Rs 13236 crore which has been kept at Rs 13784 crore for the next financial year.




He said that apart from this, there was a question that which other organization of the government availed the loan, apart from the Punjab government. He said that at present no organization of the state government has taken a loan while during the Congress government, a total of Rs 9530 crore including Rs 5450 crore through the Rural Development Board and Rs 4090 crore through the Mandi Board was availed, while the farmers recieved only Rs 4400 crore as loan waiver.


He further added that the pending liabilities of Rs.6,279 crore of previous Congress government has been paid by the Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann led Punjab government. He said that apart from it, pending Power Subsidy Arrears amounting to Rs. 9000 crore is being released as per the liquidation plan prepared, in addition to another Rs. 2468 crore pending are been released to PSPCL now. He said that UGC Scales and Judicial Pay Commission which was due from 1.1.2016 however implemented by this Government.


Replying to a an issued raised by the BJP member, the Finance Minister said that Union Government has not disbursed Rs. 8,000 crore designated for the National Health Mission (NHM), Rural Development Fund (RDF), Mandi Development Fund (MDF), and Special Assistance to State for Capital Investment. He said that citizens of the state equally contributed in the union treasury, thus the state has equal right on it and not begging for the same. He further added that a number of centre state sponsored schemes are being run with a 40 percent contribution of the state. He said that even the teachers recently regularized at a salary of Rs 25000 per month were earlier working at meager salary under a similar scheme during SAD-BJP rule.


He said that the own tax revenue growth of the state during FY 2022-23 was 13 percent and during FY 2023-24 remained at 14 percent whereas during past governments it remained only 6 to 8 percent. He said that revenue from Excise was Rs 6151 crore when the Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann led Punjab Government took office in March 2022, whereas, now the target is to collect Rs 10,350 crore. He said that this was possible only due to transparent Excise policy and strict enforcement. Quoting figures of previous governments, the Finance Minister said that the capital expenditure also witnessed substantial increase during current regime.


The Finance Minister categorically mentioned the grants provided to the Punjabi University, Punjab Agriculture University and Panjab University. He said that Rs 360 crore, Rs 101 Crore and Rs. 475 crore was allocated to Punjabi University, Patiala, Panjab University, Chandigarh and PAU Ludhiana respectively as per revised budget estimates of FY 2023-24 and allocated Rs 375 crore, Rs 140 Crore and Rs 471 in the budget estimates for 2024-25. He said that UGC scales have been duly implemented in PAU w.e.f 1.4.2023, and payment being released from May, 2023.


Concluding his reply, the Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema said that this budget has been made keeping focus on needs of common people, agriculture sector, education, health sector, employment and expectations of the youth of the state.