Other States

AAP says it is working to improve Punjab’s fiscal health

State Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema during a press conference in Chandigarh on February 14, 2020.

State Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema during a press conference in Chandigarh on February 14, 2020. | Photo Credit: Akhilesh Kumar

As it completed five months in power, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab on August 16 asserted that it was putting in “honest efforts” to improve the fiscal health of the State, while the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) accused it of twisting figures “to fool the people”.

Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema said the government is earmarking a lion’s share, that is, 35.06% of the total budget, for nine key departments — Health and Family Welfare; Medical Education and Research; Education (School and Higher); Technical Education; Home Affairs; Cooperation; Agriculture and Farmers Welfare; Social Security; and Women and Child Development, for this financial year.

Addressing a joint press conference in Chandigarh, Mr. Cheema said the government is working to improve the fiscal health of the State. He said the government had so far has returned loans amounting to ₹12,339 crore, including the principal amount of ₹6,349 crore and interest on a loan of ₹5,989 crore, while the loan of ₹10,729 crore was availed during this period. Education Minister Harjot Singh Bains, Health Minister Chetan Singh Jodemajra, Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, and Power Minister Harbhajan Singh also participated in the conference.

Mr. Cheema said that the Punjab Government had focused on improving the State’s revenues while making its maximum utilisation for the welfare of the people. “A target of 27% of the growth in GST collection was set for the financial year 2022-23. During the first four months, the State achieved 24.15% growth with a collection of ₹7,243 crore of GST,” he said.

He added that with the new excise policy, the State government had collected ₹3,108.17 crore, whereas the previous government had collected ₹2,166.48 for the same period during FY 2021-22. The government registered excise growth of 43.47% by putting a “full stop” on the liquor mafia, he said.

AAP twisting financial data to cover failures: SAD

Hitting out at the government, former Minister and SAD leader Daljeet Singh Cheema said the AAP government was trying to mislead people by twisting financial data to cover up its failures.

Mr. Singh alleged that the Ministers were trying to fool people by changing the laws of economics to suit their petty political purposes. “The Finance Minister has claimed that the State has repaid a debt of ₹12,339 crore in the last five months. The truth is that Punjab has accumulated a total debt of ₹36,068 crore and was supposed to repay an amount of ₹15,025 crore in the last five months, according to the Budget. So, it’s clear that the State government has defaulted on repaying the proportionate debt,” he said.

“While the AAP government has failed to pay the complete five-month debt, it has taken a five-month further loan of ₹10,000 crore. This means it has taken a new loan to repay the old one because it has nothing to show by way of capital expenditure,” he added.

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Printable version | Aug 16, 2022 11:02:54 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/aap-says-it-is-working-to-improve-punjabs-fiscal-health/article65775980.ece