On the availability of vaccine, the chief secretary told the CM that the situation was critical, with only three days of stocks left, but the Central Government has assured that more would be coming soon.
Rejecting the Union Budget for 2021-22 as reflective of the BJP led Central government’s “total apathy” towards the common man, the middle class and the farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said even the vital sector of defence had not been adequately addressed despite the growing border threat from China and Pakistan, while health allocation was actually down amid the Covid crisis.
Trashing the Centre’s claim the health sector allotment had been increased by 35 per cent, the CM said the fact was that numbers had been effectively fudged to project a hike by including the Rs 35000 Crore Covid vaccine allotment and the amount set aside for sanitation and cleanliness under the health head. Actually, the budget for health was down 10 per cent, he added.
The CM also slammed the Centre for the stepmotherly treatment meted out to Punjab and other northern states in the budget, which was designed to cater to the pollbound state of West Bengal, as well as south India, with a massive infrastructure development allocation for these regions. “The budget also manifests the central government’s persistent efforts to sideline non-BJP states like ours, as well as its anti-federal mindset,” said Amarinder, pointing to the gap between the Fiscal Deficit targets fixed for the Union and States for short and medium term.
Aimed at promoting the interests of a few corporates at the cost of the needs and aspirations of the remaining over 1.3 billion population, the budget presented in Parliament today by the Union government failed to address the growing problem of unemployment, which the Covid pandemic had exacerbated, said the CM.
“And did the finance minister not find it necessary to even mention constitutional guarantee for MSP, one of the key demands of the farmers battling cold and lathis at the doorstep of New Delhi for over two months now?” asked Amarinder, lamenting the measly two per cent hike for the agriculture sector, which had been the only well performing sector for the country amid the lockdown.
The CM also flayed the Centre’s minimal focus on education, which has seen a massive setback for lakhs of children hit by the digital divide amid the pandemic. “It seems that this government has no care or concern for our soldiers fighting to protect us at the borders, or our frontline healthcare workers and also the teachers who have been pushed to the limits to ensure seamless service in the midst of Covid,” he added.
With no tax relief, the beleaguered middle class has also got nothing in this budget, he pointed out, adding that as against 25 per cen for the corporate sector, the middle class will continue to pay 35 per cent plus cess, along with 100 per cent indirect tax on petrol and diesel.
The CM expressed shock over the Centre’s decision to go in for a virtual wholesale divestment of PSUs and government assets at a time when the economy was in the dumps. This was inexplicable, considering that the RSS had always vehemently opposed such divestment, and also given the Centre’s self-proclaimed thrust on `Atmanirbhar Bharat’, he added.