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PUNJAB-Manpreet’s Bland Budget: No New Taxes, No New Sops Reveals ₹2,323cr Gap in Funds, Makes U-Turn On Fuel VAT

February 19, 2019 06:35 AM


Manpreet’s Bland Budget: No New Taxes, No New Sops
Reveals ₹2,323cr Gap in Funds, Makes U-Turn On Fuel VAT
Vibhor Mohan & Sanjeev Verma | TNN


Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal’s third budget on Monday cut value added tax (VAT) on fuel to slash petrol and diesel prices by Rs 5 and Re 1 respectively to match rates in the neighbouring states However, with a glaring unfunded gap of Rs 2,323 crore and outstanding debt of Rs 2,12,276 crore, the Congress government restrained from announcing any major sops in the budget for 2019-20 ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

At the same time, it also did not impose any new taxes.

“I could have made proposals for some additional taxes to cover this (unfunded) gap. However, I hope that with efficiency in tax compliance we will be able to tackle it,” said Manpreet in his budget speech to the Punjab assembly.

In a first for the Punjab assembly, the finance minister’s budget speech was disrupted for over 30 minutes. Amidst the din in the House due to continuous sloganeering by members of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and a verbal spat between cabinet minister Navjot Sidhu and SAD’s Bikram Majithia, Manpreet claimed that the state’s finances were improving.

In his last two budgets, Manpreet’s primary concern was fiscal consolidation, but this time he has allocated Rs 22,842 crore for capital expenditure, almost six times more compared to last year’s Rs 4,872 crore.

The budget has allocated Rs 3,000 crore for extending the farm loan waiver scheme to landless farm labourers and to “the families of farmers who have been forced to commit suicide.” Among the new schemes are a policy titled ‘Make in Punjab’ to promote goods manufactured in the state and an allocation of Rs 300 crore for celebrating 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Claiming that Punjab’s economy was on road to revival, Manpreet said the state’s gross state domestic product (GSDP) has gone up, revenue receipts were estimated to grow and indicators by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had confirmed that Punjab has primary surplus of 0.60 % of GSDP in 2017-18. “The government remains focused

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