Punjab budget: Cash-strapped govt announces farm loan waivers, introduces development tax  

<i>Punjab has been grappling with severe funding crunch, with the outstanding debt projected to shoot up to Rs 2,11,523 crore in 2018-19 from last year’s Rs 1,95,978 crore</i>

Photo courtesy: Twitter/@ChitleenKSethi
Photo courtesy: Twitter/@ChitleenKSethi
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NH Web Desk

Punjab’s Finance Minister on Saturday presented the state’s annual budget in the assembly, with lion’s share of funds being allocated to agriculture and healthcare sectors. The state government has set aside Rs 4,250 crore for farm debt waivers and Rs 180 crore for sugarcane farmers, among other allocations.

Punjab’s farmers reportedly owe nearly Rs 90,000 crore in debt to authorities.

The overall funding for the agricultural sector has increased to Rs 14,734 crore from Rs 10,581 crore last financial year.

The Captain Amarinder Singh-led state government has also introduced a new development cess of Rs 2,400 per annum for each taxpayer. Punjab has been grappling with severe funding crunch, with the outstanding debt projected to shoot up to Rs 2,11,523 crore in 2018-19 from last year’s Rs 1,95,978 crore.

The opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) staged a walkout as the budget was being presented, terming this year’s expenditure document as a rehash of previous year’s budgets under the Shironami Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments.

Other major highlights of this year’s budget so far:

  • Rs 914.57 allocated to the National Health Mission, a nearly 20 per cent increase from last year.
  • Rs 4,015 crore for primary and secondary healthcare, a year-on-year increase of 13 per cent.
  • Badal announced Rs 1,634 crore for over 17 lakh beneficiaries of social security pension.
  • Rs 2000 crore for carrying out reparations of 16,000 km roads.
  • Rs 100 crore for the Swachh Bharat Mission.

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