Punjab Finance minister (FM) Manpreet Singh Badal on Thursday said the initiation of Goods and Service Tax (GST) and introduction of the debt waiver scheme in Punjab has affected state’s cash flow.
Manpreet Badal, was in New Delhi on Thursday to attend Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s pre-budget 2018-19 meeting with state finance ministers, said the Centre should increase state’s net borrowing ceiling from three per cent to four per cent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). He also urged that consent under Article 293 (3) of the Constitution should be given to Punjab for swapping of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) loans with low cost market borrowing.
During the meeting he also sought an all India farm debt waiver scheme on the pattern of Punjab, while calling for restoration of the 90:10 funding pattern under the RashtriyaKrishiVikasYojana (RKVY). He asked the Union government to provide more avenues to the states to determine priorities in Agriculture sector, besides the inclusion of Punjab under the special category for Border Area Development Programme. Badal stressed on the need for close co-ordination between the Centre and the states.
The FM also urged the Union government to provide a special grant of Rs 500 to celebrate the 550th Prakash Utsav of Guru Nanak Dev. He added that Rs 100 Crore should be provided for academic, research and museum projects for observing the 550th year celebrations in a most befitting manner.
Raising concerns over the state’s natural boundaries with Pakistan, the FM urged that Union government should provide a special grant to line by studs and spurs in the rivers forming natural countries. To combat terror activities, the FM demanded a special package for purchase of equipment to modernise the police to counter anti-terrorism operations efficaciously.
Advocating the need to make states financially stronger, Manpreet Badal said that Union government should release the share of Central taxes on account of tax devolution of corporate tax and income tax on a monthly basis instead of four quarterly installments in 2018-19. He said it will help to avert severe impact on development works in the states, besides increasing fiscal stress.
Badal said increasing the RKVY ratio back to 90:10 from 60:40 would not only help in boosting Agriculture infrastructure, farm extension activities and diversification, but also in achieving the Union government’s vision of doubling farm income by 2022.
On the issue of farm debt waiver, the FM told the meeting that the Punjab government had taken the initiative to announce a loan waiver scheme to the extent of Rs 2 Lakh for all the marginal and small debt-stressed farmers of the state. This covers more than 60 per cent of the state’s farming community and will benefit almost 10 Lakh farmers with a financial outlay of around Rs 9,500 Crore.