Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, March 10
Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema presented a Rs 1.96-lakh-crore state budget for 2023-24 in the Assembly here on Friday which focused primarily on agriculture, education and health sectors.
Cheema announced various new schemes such as a market price risk mitigation scheme for the horticulture sector, solarisation of agriculture pumps, a young entrepreneur scheme and two coaching initiatives for students in the first full budget of the AAP government.
Speaking in the Assembly, Cheema said education, health and agriculture are among the priority sectors for the government.
A provision of Rs 10,523 crore, which is 11% higher than FY 2022-23, is proposed for police.
Punjab’s debt expected to rise to Rs 3.47 lakh crore by the end of 2023-24.
7 new maternal and child care hospitals to come up at a cost of ₹43 crore
The govt has already established 504 Aam Aadmi Clinics. Another 142 clinics are in the pipeline and are expected to be operational in next few days. In these clinics, 80 drugs and 41 diagnostic tests are being provided free of cost and so far, more than 10.50 lakh patients have availed OPD facilities, and 1 lakh lab tests have been conducted in these clinics, says Cheema.
A budgetary provision of Rs 4,781 crore for Health and Family Welfare in 2023-24 has been made, which is 11% higher than the previous year 2022-23.
Two new Medical Colleges of 100 MBBS seats each at Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur are being set up at a cost of Rs 422 crore and Rs 412 crore, respectively, designs of which have been approved and which are expected to be operational soon.
State Cancer Institute for cancer patients at Government Medical College, Amritsar, at a cost of Rs 119 crore and Cancer Care Center at Fazilka at a cost of Rs 46 crore are expected to start soon.
An amount of Rs 35 crore is proposed for the construction, up-gradation and strengthening of sports infrastructure in 2023-24. Further, 10 sports infrastructure projects have been identified to be developed under PPP mode, and feasibility reports are under preparation.
For construction of 11 new colleges in the state, Rs 36 crore has already been released in 2022-23. A budgetary outlay of Rs 68 crore is proposed for undertaking infrastructure development; improvement of infrastructure facilities and for creation of libraries in the government colleges.
For strengthening and upgradation of Urdu Academy, Malerkotla, an allocation of Rs 2 crore is proposed during next fiscal.
Punjab Young Entrepreneur Programme has been launched with the aim to encourage class 11th students to propose their original business ideas and would be supported by the government by providing seed money Rs 2,000 per student. This start-up programme has been started with the aim to instil financial and leadership skills in the students, an allocation of Rs 30 crore is proposed for this purpose.
For providing Pre-Matric scholarships, the government proposes an allocation of Rs 18 crore for OBC students and Rs 60 crore for SC students in 2023-24.
In Education sector, 117 schools have been identified for upgrading them as “Schools of Eminence”. Of these schools, work for up-gradation on pilot basis has already started at four schools of Amritsar. They are being made operational on Hub and Spoke model, other schools in a given cluster shall be attached to a School of Eminence. I can foresee that these Schools of Eminence would become “Growth Poles” of education. They will have the best infrastructure, all education streams, trained faculty, sports and extra circular activities, career counseling and many other activities for holistic development of a student under one roof. I propose a budget of Rs 200 crore in 2023-24 for up-gradation of the schools into Schools of Eminence, announces Cheema.
Cheema says: “One crore saplings to be planted in 2023-24z Under ‘Green Punjab Mission’, 151 Nanak Bagichies, 68 Pavittar Van are being developed.
“We would expand these Nanak Bagichies and Pavittar Van. A budgetary allocation of Rs 258 crore is proposed in FY 2023-24 for Department of Forest and Wildlife.
Marked to set up crude palm oil processing plant and vanaspati plant in Khanna
MILKFED would expand its procurement network in villages on one hand and on the other hand market its products in national and international markets. Rs 100 crore is hereby proposed in the next financial year to nudge MILKFED to reach new heights. Our Government envisages to double the turnover of MILKFED from Rs 4,886 crore in FY 2021-22 to Rs 10,000 crore by FY 2026-27.
“Our government has also decided to launch a new risk mitigation scheme ie “Bhaav Antar Bhugtan Yojna” for horticulture producers. Government would intervene to ensure right remuneration to horticulture producers whenever market prices would fluctuate beyond a certain level. I propose an initial allocation of Rs 15 crore for this purpose in FY 2023-24. Further, a new scheme for diversification through flower seed production would also operation in the upcoming financial year,” he says
New horticulture estates to be set up at Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Patiala, Bathinda and Faridkot.
He says that Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar has created an apple variety through tissue culture, which is suited for Punjab’s Climate Conditions. “In the next 2 years, we can expect Punjab to have its own apple orchards, which are only seen in hill states”.
2,574 Kisan Mitras to be engaged to provide extension services in each village.
Chemma says 30,312 farmers were given assistance Rs 1,500 per acre for direct seeding of rice. This will be enhanced further and Rs 125 crore is reserved for this.
"We ensured that farm fire incidents fell by 30 per cent this year".
50,000 farmers benefitted from selling of traceable seeds by PUNSEED. A revolving fund for buying basmati crop and a special scheme for providing good quality cotton seeds has also been announced.
The allocation for Agriculture is Rs 13888 crore, an increase of 20 per cent for next fiscal. A new Agriculture policy is being brought out.
The total budget size this year is Rs 1,96,462 crore, an increase of over 20 per cent.
The effective capital expenditure in 2023-24 will be Rs 11,727 crore.
Cheema says that they have developed applications for checking tax evasion, which will help mop-up revenue. He says that for the first time he has ensured that the sinking fund of the state has been given a boost by diverting Rs 3,000 crore to this fund.
Cheema also rued the “indifferent treatment” meted out to Punjab by the central government, which has withheld funds of Rs 9,035 crore.
He said Punjab’s GSDP has increased by 9.24 per cent this year to Rs 6,38,023 crore and is expected to increase to Rs 6,98,635 crore in the next fiscal.
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