M A I N   N E W S

Punjab Annual Plan fixed at Rs 3,550 cr
Major emphasis on energy sector, transport another priority area
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 1
The Annual Plan of Punjab for 2005-06 has been fixed at Rs 3,550 crore. This was a decided at a meeting here between Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Deputy Chairperson of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Capt Singh said the fiscal reforms initiated by the state government need to be viewed in the context of almost “a dismal financial position inherited by the present government.”

“Neglecting developmental needs of the state for the sake of fiscal consolidation is bound to be unsustainable. As a matter of fact the entire revenues of the state are pre-empted by committed expenditure on salaries, pensions and debt servicing. Whatever little has been invested in development is by raising more loans, which has pushed the state government into a virtual debt trap,” Capt Singh said.

He said the state government’s plea for structural adjustment loan (SAL) from the World Bank has been turned down on the ground that the state government has not achieved the fiscal targets incorporated in the MoU signed with the Centre.

“Merely not achieving the fiscal targets in a given year should not disqualify the state from availing SAL facility from the World Bank”, the Chief Minister told the Planning Commission.

Giving the priorities of the annual plan for 2005-06, Capt Singh said the major emphasis was on the energy sector constituting 31 per cent share of the total outlay. To expand and strengthen the power generation system, unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) requires funds to the tune of Rs 3,500 crore.

Social services constitute 24.71 per cent of the total allocation he said, adding the state government has decided to create a social security fund of Rs 450 crore for the payment of pensions to the aged, widows, destitute, disabled and dependent/orphan children in the future.

The transport sector was another major priority area, which will receive 24.14 per cent share of the total plan allocation. The state government also proposes to set up an urban development fund of Rs 250 crore for upgradation of civic amenities in towns and cities of the state, Capt Singh said.

Deputy Chairperson of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia underlined the need for more effort by the state in terms of strengthening infrastructure through public private participation (PPP) model.

The meeting was also attended by Punjab Finance and Planning Minister Surinder Singla, the Vice-chairman of State Planning Board, Dr S.S. Johal, Deputy Chairperson of State Planning Board R.R. Bharadwaj and Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill.

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