Punjab Budget Session starts Tuesday, to be stormy affair

Pubjab Budget Session starts Tuesday, to be stormy affair

The Budget Session of the Punjab Assembly, commencing Tuesday, is likely to be a stormy affair with opposition parties deciding to corner the Congress government over issues such as “pending DA and arrears of employees, regularization of teachers, lack of development and farmers’ suicides”.

The Session will begin February 12 with Punjab Governor’s address while the Budget estimates for the year 2019-20 would be presented before the House on February 18. The session will conclude on February 21.

It will be interesting to see whether Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal presents a populist budget, despite little fiscal space, with the Lok Sabha elections nearing.

Significantly, the financial position of the state continues to remain “poor” in view of low revenue mobilisations and rising committed liabilities. The total debt of the state has been pegged at Rs 2.10 lakh crore.

The 15th Finance Commission, which visited Chandigarh last month, had expressed concern over Punjab’s rising outstanding debt to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) ratio, declining tax revenues, and also noted that the state was in a situation where its gross borrowings were “not even enough” to meet its expenditure on repayment of principal and interest payment, leaving little scope for spending on developmental works.

Opposition parties Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are likely to take on the state government in the House over its “failure” of honouring its poll promises.

SAD Spokesperson and former minister Daljit Singh Cheema
SAD Spokesperson and former minister Daljit Singh Cheema

“The party will be raising several issues such as farmers’ suicides, pending dearness allowance and arrears of government employees, regularisation of teachers, lack of development, farm debt waiver,” SAD Spokesperson and former minister Daljit Singh Cheema said.

An Akali leader asked the Congress government why it was not releasing four installments of DA amounting to Rs 4,000 crore.

Cheema further said the party will also raise the issue of “cane-charging of teachers by police in Patiala that left several teachers injured”.