AAP’s Maiden Punjab Budget Promises Free Power, No New Taxes; Opposition Calls It ‘Visionless’

Presenting its maiden budget, the Bhagwant Mann-led Punjab government on Monday decided to lay stress on the improvement of the health, education, and agricultural sectors. The Rs 1.55 lakh crore budget presented by finance minister Harpal Cheema also ensured that there was no introduction of new taxes.

After its promise of providing 300 units of free electricity for all, the budget, however, failed to make any provision for the party’s other much-touted assurance of a guaranteed income of Rs 1,000 per month to every woman of the state above the age of 18.

The paperless budget presented by Cheema plans to earn Rs 95,378.28 crore this fiscal through the proposed excise policy which he said would yield an increase in revenue by 56 per cent. Cheema also pointed out that an increased GST collection will get the state an increased 27 per cent in comparison to the previous year.

Despite the positive picture that the finance minister tried to portray, the expenditure is pegged at Rs 1,55,859.78 crore, thus leading to a deficit of Rs 12553.80 crore. The AAP government already tabled a white paper a couple of days ago, saying that Punjab was in a debt trap, where more debt is being accumulated to repay old debt, and not for the future development of the state.

The opposition said that the AAP government presented a budget that was not paperless but visionless. “The maiden budget of the AAP government has not been able to suggest in what way they are going to fulfil all the promises that they have made,” said BJP state unit president Ashwani Sharma. He said that they had promised to open mohalla clinics but have been able to make provision for only 117 mohalla clinics.

Leader of the opposition in the assembly Partap Bajwa said, “They had promised a guaranteed income to all women above the age of 18. Where is the provision for that?” He said that this budget only goes on to prove that this was a government full of lofty promises and no vision.

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