PTC Exclusive: Punjab's financial health still 'fragile'; earnings reduce further, reveals AG report
PTC Exclusive by Ravinder Meet: In contrary to claims being made by the Punjab Government, the state's financial health is yet to recover. The state's earnings have reduced further, forcing the Punjab Government, led by Bhagwant Mann, to avail loans. The revelation has come to the fore in AG's data till October 2022.
It has come to light that the Punjab Government does not seem to be meeting the revenue target as expected. The government has been claiming that Punjab has drafted the best liquor policy this time, but the ground reality paints a different picture.
The AG data shows that from April 2022 to October 2022, the income from liquor has decreased compared to the previous year. It has decreased by 0.30 per cent. As of August 2022, 0.2 per cent of the government's revenue came from liquor, but now it has come down. This time, the Punjab Government has set a target of Rs 9,647.87 crore from liquor, but till the month of October, the government earned only Rs 4719.12 crore.
The Bhagwant Mann-led Punjab Government witnessed a decline of 16.62 per cent in its income from petrol. In 2021, the government earned Rs 4,275 crore from petrol till October, while it could generate an income of Rs 3,345 crore only till October this year. As compared to the previous year, the government's income has decreased by Rs 900 crore.
The Punjab Government's income from stamp duty has also decreased. Compared to the previous year, the government witnessed a decline of 3.28 per cent in income from stamp duty. The government had set a target of Rs 3,600 crore from stamp duty, but it could earned Rs 2,160 crore till October. Land revenue has also decreased by 20 per cent. The government has received an income of Rs 51.09 crore.
The AG data further reveals that the Punjab Government has seen a slight decrease of 0.60 per cent in the income from GST compared to the last year.
The government has taken a loan of Rs 13,940.15 crore in the last 7 months (April 2022 to October 2022), of which Rs 8,795.96 crore has gone towards the repayment of interest.
On the other hand, the government has taken more debt than the previous year and has also paid more interest than the previous year. It took a loan of Rs 11,128.40 crore till October 21 last year while this year it has taken a loan of Rs 13,940.15 crore till October 22.
The only relief is that Punjab Government has received an income of Rs 25,52.95 crore from non-tax revenue, which is 12.68 per cent more than the previous year.
The revenue deficit of the Punjab Government has increased by 11.10 per cent while the fiscal deficit has increased by 12.68 per cent.
The primary deficit has increased from 71.40 per cent to 138.55 per cent, clearly indicating that the income of the government is not increasing.
On the other, when contacted, Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Cheema has categorically negated the claims in AG report and has claimed that Punjab's financial health is improving.
- PTC NEWS