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AAP govt committed to reducing Punjab's debt burden: Finance Minister

Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Wednesday said the Bhagwant Mann-led govt is committed to reduce Punjab's debt burden

Bhagwant Mann

Bhagwant Mann-led AAP govt presented its maiden budget

Press Trust of India Chandigarh
Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Wednesday said the Bhagwant Mann-led government is committed to reduce Punjab's debt burden.
Speaking in the Punjab assembly during a discussion on budget estimates, Cheema said the state has an annual borrowing limit of Rs 55,000 crore.
"But we will not raise more than Rs 35,000 crore and we will also repay Rs 36,000 crore of debt, said Cheema during the ongoing assembly session.
The minister said the AAP government is committed to reduce the debt burden of Punjab.
"We will reduce the debt burden," asserted Cheema.
He informed the House that in 2020-21, a sum of Rs 42,386 crore was borrowed and in 2021-21, Rs 41,083 crore was raised.
Cheema said so far, the AAP government has raised Rs 8,000 crore and also repaid Rs 10,500 crore.
After the opposition members of the House raised questions over the state excise policy, Cheema said the state government has targeted to generate Rs 9,600 crore as against Rs 6,200 crore in last fiscal from liquor.
Taking on the previous governments, Cheema said liquor brought from Haryana was used to be sold in Punjab.
"The days of those who used to run the liquor mafia are now over," said Cheema.
On the issue of setting up a tax intelligence unit, the minister said it will not harass anyone but will trouble those who indulge in tax evasion.
He informed the House that the tax intelligence unit is running successfully in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Cheema in the budget had announced establishing the tax intelligence unit which will equip the finance department to improve tax compliances under GST through taxpayer facilitation and communication.
Cheema, who took part in the GST council meeting here, informed the House that he had sought that the GST compensation should be extended for the next five years.
He blamed the previous government for not making any effort for revenue mobilisation in the past five years.
On the issues of the old pension scheme and giving pay scales as per the seventh pay commission, Cheema said the chief minister was considering these matters.
Cheema said the AAP-government will take action against those who have indulged in corruption.
Interrupting the minister, Leader of Opposition and Congress MLA Partap Singh Bajwa asked him to also act against corrupt officers.
After Bajwa accused the AAP MLAs of daily reporting to a person who is sitting in the gallery, apparently refereing to AAP MP Raghav Chadha, the ruling legislators rose from their seats and objected to the statement.
Heated exchanges took place between AAP MLA Aman Arora, Harpal Cheema and Bajwa.
Though Bajwa did not take any names, Chadha was sitting in the gallery of the House to witness the proceedings.
On the issue of conversion of Rs 31,000 crore of cash credit limit (CCL) gap into long term loan by then SAD-BJP regime, Cheema said the AAP government took up this issue with the Centre and has been able to reduce the rate of interest from 8.25 per cent to 7.35 per cent which would reduce interest burden by about Rs 3,000 crore.
The CCL gap arose because of the mismatch between cash credit availed for procuring wheat and paddy and foodgrain stocks in the account books of the state procurement agencies since 2004.
The Rs 31,000 crore included Rs 12,000 crore principal and around Rs 19,000 crore interest amount and Punjab has been paying Rs 3,240 crore interest per annum on it which it has to pay for 20 years.
Meanwhile, the House passed the Punjab Appropriation Bill, 2022 amounting to about Rs 1,55,859 crore towards defraying several charges which will come in the course of payment to be made during the financial years 2022-23.
The Bill was moved by Cheema in the House.
Earlier, during Zero Hour, Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira protested in the House for not being allowed to speak.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Jun 30 2022 | 7:24 AM IST

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