Tribune News Service
Amritsar, March 8
City-based experts and traders termed the last Budget of the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Punjab Government as an attempt to please all sections of society. They did not mince words from saying that the agriculture sector and employees cornered the lion’s share of the Budget.
TS Chahal, former dean, faculty of agriculture, Khalsa College, observes: “Despite Covid pandemic, the Budget of over Rs 1,68,000 crore has tried to please all sections of population. The employees have been promised the implementation of 6th Pay Commission. On Women’s Day today, a gift of free travel to women in government buses has also been announced. The same facility has also been extended to students. The farming community, which constitutes 65 per cent of the population, has been promised Rs 1,712 crore for debt relief – Rs 1,186 crore for 1.13 lakh farmers and 526 crore for farm labour. By starting ‘Kamyab Kisan – Khushaal Punjab’, the government has tried to encourage crop diversification by establishing agro-industries and other facilities. It has also made provision to control water table. Making an arrangement for canal-based water supply for urban population is a laudable step. However, a huge subsidy to farming community, social sector and industry to the tune of Rs14,000 crore, which is even higher than bigger states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, etc and even Haryana falling in the capital zone is a big challenge. Further, proposal to opening new medical colleges, women colleges, sports stadium for youth and up-gradation of different institutions is dare to be managed. The objectives are laudable but their management will be an uphill task. How to manage the deficit of the budget and the increasing loan load against the state is also a big question.”
Two schemes announced to fix base price for horticulture crops and payment of deficiency price as compensation are likely to mitigate the risk of horticulture farmers.
Sukhdev Singh Pannu, president of the Pensioners Welfare Association, said, it was their long pending demand to implement the 6th Pay Commission. He welcomed its implementation from July 1. He added that -bound installments of arrears worth Rs 9,000 crore must also be made.
Sunita, an old-age pensioner, said inflation on essential commodities had turned Rs 500 monthly pension meaningless. New pension of Rs 1,500 is not sufficient but still can be called a welcome step.
Piara Lal Seth, President of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal (PPBM), said, there is nothing for the entrepreneur ranging in the middle category. “The proposed Rs 150 crore for the Punjab Innovation Fund to invest in early stage start-ups is an insufficient amount for the sector, besides the government’s participation will not be more than 10 percent of the corpus is too low a support.”
The extension of the GST incentive to October 17, 2022 is a welcome move. It is likely to attract investment. Earlier, an application submitted before March 31, 2020 was applicable. All districts will have a District Bureau of Industry and Investment Promotion office which is again a move in the right direction but entrepreneurs should be included in it. Subsidised power tariff to the industry should be frozen at Rs five at the delivery rate. However, there is nothing for middle segment traders. and the MSME sector, Seth lamented.
Gunbir Singh, President of Dilbir Foundation, says: “Juggling social aspirations with fiscal imperatives and fulfilling election promises must have been a tedious task for Manpreet Singh Badal. But he tried to balance it all. Despite the fact that the state government has been reeling under debt and is dealing with the financial load of a lockdown, it remained committed to funding towards agriculture, education, infrastructure, which is commendable by any standard.
Education sector also gained attention of the government as it announced to upgrade 250 schools, allocated Rs 140 crore for digital education, besides, fitness parks which would be up in all government schools and playgrounds. Another grant of Rs 100 crore for smartphones to students of Class XII is also laudable.
Key announcements for city
- A grant of Rs 5 crore has been announced for the Guru Granth Sahib Centre at the Guru Nanak Dev University and Rs18 crore for War Memorial.
- A virology laboratory at the Government Medical College (GMC) has also been announced for Amritsar in the Budget. The oldest medical college of the North India, the GMC was formerly known as the Glancy Medical College, Lahore. It was established in 1864 and then relocated to Amritsar in 1920.
"There is nothing for the entrepreneurs ranging in the middle category. The proposed Rs150 crore for the Punjab Innovation Fund to invest in early stage start-ups is an insufficient amount for the sector, besides the government’s participation will not be more than 10 per cent of the corpus, which is again not a heartening contribution." —Piara Lal Seth, President of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal
"The employees have been promised the implementation of 6th Pay Commission. On the Women’s Day, a gift of free travel to women in government buses has also been announced. The same facility has also been extended to students. Despite the pandemic, the government has tried to please all sections of the population with a budget of over Rs1,68,000 crore." — TS Chahal, former Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Khalsa College
"The government has robbed the employees of their dues in the Budget. The 6th Pay Commission should have been implemented from January 1, 2016. The government had not released DA of employees for the past 185 months. It has been framing such rules and formalities that it has become difficult for us to find jobs." —Ashwani Awasthi of Sanjha Adhyapak Morcha
"Presenting a Budget must have been a tedious task for Manpreet Singh Badal. But he tried to balance it all. Despite the fact that the state government has been reeling under debt and is dealing with the financial load of a lockdown, it remained committed to funding every sector." — Gunbir Singh, President, Dilbir Foundation
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