Punjab govt presents maiden budget, eyes fiscal stability

20 Jun 2017

The Congress government in Punjab that came to power in March presented its maiden budget for 2017-18 here on Tuesday, with a focus on reducing the crushing debt burden and restoring fiscal stability.
Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal proposed the budget of Rs 1,18,237.90 crore, with an emphasis on education and social sectors.
He also proposed an outlay of Rs 1,500 crore for waiving the debt of distressed farmers of the state.
For the agriculture sector, the minister proposed to increase allocation by 65.77 per cent to Rs 10,580.99 crore in 2017-18.
"The government faces the daunting challenge of fulfilling its promises to the people of Punjab under extreme budgetary pressures. In the first year, our focus will be two-fold: to gradually reduce the crushing burden of debt...
and restore its fiscal health while at the same time taking immediate measures to ensure efficient use of resources already allocated by minimising waste and improving accountability," he said.
Total outstanding debt of the state as on March 31 was Rs 1,86,618 crore, including informal debt of Rs 4,435 crore, which have been raised by previous state governments through various agencies without approval of the central government, Manpreet told the Assembly.
Revenue expenditure has increased to Rs 62,733.81 crore in 2016-17, from Rs 18,544 crore in 2006-07, a jump of 238 per cent, the minister said further.
During the same period, expenditure on salaries rose to Rs 19,800 crore from Rs 5,783 crore, pension to Rs 8,140 crore from Rs 1,905 crore and interest to Rs 11,982 crore from Rs 4,152 crore.
"Thus, the growing share of salary pension and interest payments in its receipt expenditure prevented the state from achieving revenue surplus," he explained.
Keeping its pre-poll promise, the government proposed Rs 10 crore in the budget for providing smart mobile phones to the youth.
Stamp duty has been proposed to be slashed to 6 per cent from 9 per cent for registration of properties in urban areas, the state finance minister said.
The outlay of the urban sector has been raised to Rs 4,610.59 crore, from Rs 2,268.18 crore, a raise of 103.27 per cent over the previous year. (PTI)