Punjab finance minister rejects charge of fudging figures in budget

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Chandigarh, Mar 10 (PTI) Under fire from the opposition over the state budget and 'unfulfilled' poll promises, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Wednesday rejected the charge of fudging figures and claimed the highest-ever hike was made in capital expenditure.

He also took on the previous SAD-BJP government for burdening the state with a debt of Rs 31,000 crore on food account.

Winding up the discussion on the budget estimates on the concluding day of the budget session of the Punjab Assembly here, Badal further said the state government would avail less borrowing as against what it was allowed to borrow.

The minister said he was committed to presenting a clean picture of the state finances.

On the gross state domestic product figure of Rs 6.06 lakh crore, he said this number was provided by the central government.

'There was no fudging of figures,' he added.

Badal also raised the issue of doubling the old-age pension to Rs 1,500 per month.

However, AAP legislator Kultar Singh Sandhwan asked the minister to raise the pension further.

Badal said Punjab gets 1.80 per cent share out of the devolution of funds from the Centre despite contributing 2.80 per cent of the country's GDP (gross domestic product).

He further said the state government will be spending Rs 150 crore on buying new buses.

On Punjab's 6th pay commission, Badal said a provision of Rs 9,000 crore had been made for its implementation after receiving the report on the same.

The state will borrow Rs 37,000 crore as against the borrowing limit of Rs 42,000 crore, he said.

The finance minister said that for the first time, a sum of Rs 14,000 crore has been earmarked as capital expenditure.

He further informed the House that an allocation of Rs 19,641 crore for the social sectors has been made in the budget, as against Rs 5,781 crore during 2016-17, when the SAD-BJP coalition was in power.

Replying to an issue earlier raised by former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Badal said the committed liabilities would drop to 62 per cent as against 91 per cent of revenue when the Congress came to power.

Talking about employment for the youth, he said around 48,000 jobs will be given before July this year, and later, 52,000 jobs will be given from December.

Earlier, Leader of Opposition and AAP legislator Harpal Singh Cheema had raised the issues of pending salaries of government employees, farm debt waiver and jobs for each household and accused the government of not honouring them.

He had described the budget as a “bundle of lies”.

Lok Insaaf Party member Simarjeet Singh Bains asked the treasury benches to throw light on the real culprits behind the 2015 sacrilege incidents and police firing incidents in Faridkot. PTI CHS VSD IJT