Budget for aam aadmi: Salient boxes ticked, but tackling debt a concern for Punjab - The Tribune India

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Budget for aam aadmi

Salient boxes ticked, but tackling debt a concern for Punjab

Budget for aam aadmi

Photo for representation. File photo



The AAP government has described its first full Budget after assuming power in Punjab as, predictably, the ‘common man’s Budget’. The policies announced are expected to provide the impetus needed to pave the way for the state’s prosperity as the Budget 2023-24 estimates a growth of 9.5 per cent. Towards this end, state Finance Minister Harpal Cheema has ticked the salient boxes with considerable hikes in allocations for the key sectors of agriculture, health, education and infrastructure as compared to last year. The big relief for the ordinary person in the Budget of Rs 1,96,462 crore, up by 26 per cent, is that no new taxes have been levied.

The agriculture outlay (Rs 13,888 crore) has been enhanced by 20 per cent to fund schemes aimed at not only resolving the agrarian crisis but also driving development as agriculture remains a pillar of the economy despite its declining returns. Notably, the efforts include crop insurance and crop diversification schemes, conservation of natural resources and horticulture promotion. Injecting a booster dose into the health sector is the Rs 4,781-crore allocation, an increase of 11 per cent. Even as the government has promised more Aam Aadmi Clinics and medical colleges, acknowledging gaps in healthcare, it has set aside funds to improve medical facilities and staff strength. With a jump of 12 per cent in the budgetary outlay to Rs 17,000 crore for the education sector, the priorities include strengthening schools and providing monetary aid to students aspiring to be entrepreneurs. Significant raises have also been made to rev up the industry and maintain law and order.

However, concerns persist about the ability of the state that is already reeling under a burgeoning debt to lift itself out of the fiscal morass and meet its budgetary goals. The state’s efforts to mop up bigger collections from state GST, VAT, state excise, stamp duty and property registration have fallen short of the targets. Tackling corruption, too, is vital for preventing the state from bleeding fiscally.


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