Rs 2,118.46 crore revenue deficit in Punjab budget

Chandigarh, March 22 | Updated: Mar 23 2005, 05:30am hrs
Without proposing fresh taxes, the Punjab government on Tuesday presented a Rs 27,691.33 crore budget, showing a revenue deficit of Rs 2,118.46 crore. The fourth budget presentation of the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government by finance minister Surinder Singla was marred by walkout by the entire opposition comprising Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP members.

The Opposition members led by their leader and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal trooped out of the House protesting the use of English as language by the finance minister during the budget presentation.

While the Akalis and BJP members wanted that the budget speech by the finance minister should be made in Punjabi, speaker Kewal Krishan ruled he cant force the minister to make a speech in a particular language.

Mr Singla said he was not proposing any new taxes, except a small cess of rupee one per litre on diesel and an additional cess of 50 paise per litre on petrol.

The cess on diesel and petrol would generate an additional Rs 100 crore for the state governnment and had been proposed to fund the governments initiatives on agricultural diversification, he said.

The budget shows a deficit of Rs 2,118.46 crore as against the revised deficit estimate of Rs 2,918.09 crore for the current fiscal. Mr Singla said the annual plan for the next fiscal had been fixed at Rs 3,550 crore as against the revised plan outlay of Rs 2,750 crore for 2004-05.

To encourage sports, the state government had proposed to exempt state, national and international sports events organised by recognised associations from the payment of entertainment duty, the finance minister said amidst thumping of benches by the ruling Congress members.

Asserting that the state government had made realistic plan rather than higher plan, the finance minister said gross budgetary support to the next years plan would be to the tune of Rs 2,319 crore. The plan focuses on human resource development, infrastructure build-up and the welfare of weaker sections, he said.

Due to funds constraint, Rs 10 crore was proposed for the maintenance of roads, Rs 40 crore for the maintenance of government buildings, Rs 25 crore and Rs 15 crore for the maintenance of canals and drains respectively, he said.