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Budget Delay
Montek snubs Punjab
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
Within a day of the Punjab government having blamed the Planning Commission for delaying its regular Budget, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, has reacted sharply.

The soft-spoken Ahluwalia today shot off a letter to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal informing him that it was the Punjab government which was not able to attend the discussions on the annual plan.

The Planing Commission letter comes a day after Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal was quoted in the media as having said “…the entire exercise for the state Budget had been completed but the state plan was yet to be passed by the Planning Commission. We were to meet the commission on February 24 but the meeting was postponed to the first week of March.”

“The reason given by the Planning Commission is that Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia is not available till then. Since the Vidhan Sabha session starts on February 27 we would not be able to present a regular Budget,” Manpreet Badalwas quoted as having said.

He was also quoted as having said that this was the reason that the state would be presenting a vote-on-account Budget. A regular Budget for the state will be presented in June-July this year.

Ahluwalia in his crisp five-line letter today said that “I am informed by my office that the proposed re-scheduling of the annual plan 2009-10 discussion with the Government of Punjab from February 24 to March is not convenient for the state Government. In view of this, I have instructed that the annual plan meeting may be retained on February 24 at 10 am.”

The issue between the Punjab government and the Planning Commission arose yesterday when Manpreet Badal was addressing a press conference in Chandigarh.

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