Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, May 11
As the AAP government prepares to present its maiden Budget next month, they are trying to come to terms with the state’s poor financial health ‘inherited’ from the Congress government.
As Finance Minister Harpal Cheema discussed the suggestions, to be included in the Budget, received from the public in the past week with CM Bhagwant Mann today, he is learnt to have also shared the financial results of 2021-2022, which shows over-borrowing (over the set target) by the previous government, unpaid legacy power subsidies and severe shortfall in revenue collection, besides taking the state off its fiscal consolidation roadmap with high revenue deficit.
These constraints that the state stares at were discussed at length, since the fiscal indicators of the past year have just been okayed by the CAG.
Official sources have told The Tribune that the previous government overshot the borrowing limit by almost Rs 1,600 crore more than the target (Rs 25,872.49 crore between April 2021 and March 2022). Instead of the projected revenue receipts of Rs 95,257.60 crore, the state had earned just Rs 78,136.60 crore during 2021-22. The non-tax revenue fell short by Rs 3,000 crore, though the state beat its target for tax revenue. The previous government had projected a revenue deficit for 2021-22 at Rs 8,622.30 crore, which has now almost doubled to Rs 16,300.03 crore.
Sources said during the meeting today, the CM was visibly impressed with the overwhelming public response received the government for presenting the “Janta da Budget”. There was near unanimity on not imposing any new taxes. “The CM was categorical that a special emphasis in the Budget proposals will have to be on improving public health and school infrastructure, and creating job avenues for the youth.”
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister told The Tribune: “Public response have been overwhelming. Suggestions have been received through email, postal letters and even via MLAs. They have suggested changes in excise, industrial, housing and transport policies, which will make these high-revenue yielding areas for the state. Some suggestions on improving the public infrastructure by linking it with the Corporate Social Responsibility have also been received. We are working to see how these can be included in the Budget proposals.”
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