M A I N   N E W S

Punjab’s Plan performance only 25% of target till now
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Development is set to suffer in Punjab. The state has barely managed to achieve 25 per cent of its Rs 14,000 crore Annual Plan target in the last seven months, even as it is looking at a Plan performance of only 50 per cent in the current financial year.

Besides meeting committed expenditure, including salaries and electricity subsidy to farmers, the government is focusing on meeting the expenses of Central schemes so as to avail Central funds for the same. It is also focused on meeting its commitments in the social sector, including regular payments under ‘shagun’ and pension schemes and releasing money to keep the ‘atta-dal’ scheme running.

In this process, key development is likely to take a hit. This includes construction of rural toilets that was treated as a priority scheme before the Assembly elections this year. The government has failed to release Rs 50 crore for this scheme despite its commitment to make the state open defecation-free.

The government has repeatedly attributed priority No. 1 status to agriculture, but the individual Plan performance of the Agriculture Department is not more than 10 per cent. Money has not been released for around 17 schemes that have been amalgamated under the macro management of agriculture. These include subsidy, which is to be given on agriculture inputs, seed subsidy, establishment of soil testing laboratories and soil conservation.

As much as Rs 22 crore has not been released for soil conservation alone under which drip irrigation and underground irrigation facilities were to be created in the state, especially in Kandi areas.

Other departments are also suffering, including the health department, which has not received money for the Mata Kaushalya scheme and the social welfare department, which is unable to release stipends to schedule caste and minority students.

Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa told TNS that the year had been a bad one for the state. He said the state was still reeling under the effect of fulfilling the recommendations of the pay commission and releasing arrears to employees.

Dhindsa said August, September and October had been very lean and the state had only managed to meet its committed expenditure that included repayment of loans and release of salaries and subsidies. He said because of this, Plan performance had been around 25 per cent till now. The state was targeting a Plan performance of 50 per cent in the current financial year, he added.

He said things would improve in the next two months. Revenue is likely to increase due to the festive season besides Rs 1,200 crore is estimated to be collected as tax on paddy procurement. The state is also likely to collect Rs 500 crore on account of resource mobilisation.

“We will try to spend more on the Plan side in the next few months,” Dhindsa added.

The government, however, faces an uphill task. Besides not being able to meet the Plan target of Rs 14,000 crore, it is also not likely to be successful in bringing down the fiscal deficit for the current year from Rs 5,584 crore to Rs 3,123 crore, as targeted.

The state’s revenue deficit touched Rs 1,347 in the first four months of the year as against Rs 1,111 crore in the corresponding period last year. If this is taken as a trend, revenue deficit this year could climb to Rs 6,838 crore. 

Fiscal woes may worsen

* Punjab is unlikely to bring down the fiscal deficit for the current year from `5,584 crore to Rs 3,123 crore, as targeted

* The state’s revenue deficit touched Rs 1,347 in the first four months of the year as against Rs 1,111 crore in the corresponding period last year

* Going by these numbers, revenue deficit of the state could climb to Rs 6,838 crore this year 





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