Punjab plans White Paper on economy

Written by Charanjit Ahuja | Chandigarh, Aug 27 | Updated: Aug 29 2008, 05:12am hrs
Punjab government may bring out the promised White Paper on the state economy that the ruling party had promised in its election manifesto.

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday said, A White Paper on the black deeds of the Congress government in Punjab would show how the anti-Punjab and anti-farmer norms, recommended by the previous chief minister in 2005, had become a hurdle in the way of the state spending even a portion of the so-called calamity relief fund (CRF) worth Rs 1,687 crore supposedly issued by the Centre to Punjab.

Finance department sources told FE on Wednesday that if Punjab brings the White Paper a status paper on the economy and tables it in the ensuing session of the assembly next month, then this alone would ensure enough fireworks if a debate is permitted on the subject.

Badal himself gave enough hints of likelihood of a White Paper when he charged the previous government for heavy debts. Hinting at White Paper, the chief minister said in a statement issued here on Wednesday that former chief minister Amarinder, through a state government communication to the union ministry of home affairs, dated 25.8.2005, had asked for a meager compensation of Rs 1000 per acre where the damage to the crops was 50 % to 75 % and only Rs 700 where the damage was up to 50 %.

The SAD-BJP government gives Rs 5000 per acre as relief as against Centres figure of Rs 1400 and Amarinders recommendation of Rs 2000 per acre. He said Punjab has asked the Centre to review the existing norms and fix a minimum of Rs. 15,000 per acre as relief-cum-compensation.

Surprisingly, the assertion by the Punjab CM is in conflict with the stand the state finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal had on different occasions taken on the issue of a White Paper on the economic health of state. The state finance minister had gone to the extent of dismissing the demand for a White Paper as naive, charging Congress leader as making an unreasonable demand.