The Punjab government today urged the central government to provide the State a financial package worth 15,000 crores in the forthcoming Union Budget including a financial aid of Rs. 100 Crore to check the cancer penetration in the Malwa belt of the state. The sufficient budgetary allocation for the payment CST compensation during 2016-17 was also requested.These demands were raised by the Finance Minister Punjab Mr. Parminder Singh Dhindsa, accompanied by the Additional Chief Secretary Finance, Mr. D.P. Reddy, during the pre budget consultation meeting of the Finance Ministers of the states with the Union Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr. Dhindsa said that Punjab has played a pivotal role in ensuring food security in the country and provided life line in the form of food grains to fellow countrymen. The state’s natural and environmental resources have not only been over exploited but also have been polluted beyond permissible limits. It is not that pollution and over utilization of environmental resources has adversely affected the human lives; the degraded environmental resources particularly quality of soil and water have also adversely affected the land productivity and hence the farming community and landless workers have been facing high degree of economic distress resulting in suicides by farmers.
He said that the state has not only been facing agrarian crisis but its industrial economy is equally in the grip of crisis mainly due to tax holidays given by the central government to the neighbouring hill states. The tax concessions given to neighbouring states have resulted in closure and flight of 274 industrial units involving investment of 3,675 crore to tax favoured states. The combined slow growth of both productive sectors of the economy poses another serious problem of stagnation of jobs for the youth.Mr. Dhindsa said that Punjab earlier was declared as a fit case along with Kerala and West Bengal for debt relief. It was resolved that the matter of debt relief would be taken care of by the Fourteenth Finance Commission. The Commission, however, overlooked the most deserving case of the state for debt relief. The reason cited by the Commission in the form of power subsidy to agriculture sector loses its justification in the light of recent statement of the Hon’ble Prime Minister that why subsidy to agriculture should not treated as incentives or stimulus as in the case of industry.
So, on basis of these and a few other factors Punjab has requested to the Hon’ble Finance Minister to consider a Special Financial Package to the State worth 15,000 crores in the forthcoming Union Budget. He also emphasized upon the need to instantaneously arrest the increasing menace of cancer in the state and added that Immediate financial aid of Rs 100 crore was required to set up state of art oncology centers and up-gradation of existing departments in Medical colleges, said Mr. Dhindsa.The Finance Minister also sought the waiver of the reimbursement of Rs. 298 crore for deployment of Para-Military forces in the State. During the discussions, Mr. Dhindsa also said that State Government should be allowed to raise market borrowings as per their fund flow requirements within the overall Fiscal Deficit limit and there should be no quarterly limits, he urged. The state should be given approval in one go or biannually, said Mr. Dhindsa. The Finance Minister also requested that sufficient budgetary allocation be kept for payment CST compensation during 2016-17.
Referring to the recommended raising of the ceiling of Professional Tax from 2,500 to 12,000 per annum by Fourteenth Finance Commission, the Minister expressed that the limit should be uniform for all states and also supported appropriate constitutional amendment as recommended by FFC. He also urged the GoI to expedite the issues relating to the interest free loans to the small and marginal farmers for crop production and an interest rate of 6% for investment credit and procurement of maize for central pool at MSP.In view of the high cost of construction, the Minister expressed concern over the restrictions imposed by the RBI on the amount of Housing loans up to 30 lakh only for construction of house and 1 lakh for enhancement/alteration/repair of house. He said that the limit requires to be enhanced to 50 lakh for new construction and 10 lakh for repair, respectively.