Criticising the Captain Amarinder Singh government's move to come up with a White Paper on state's fiscal health, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Monday protested in the Assembly when it was not allowed to table its own 'Super White Paper' mentioning state's fiscal health since 2002.
Former finance minster and SAD legislator Parminder Singh Dhindsa said Congress government has been working relentlessly to present a gloomy picture of the state’s finances with the sole aim of discrediting the previous SAD-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule to wriggle out of the false promises made by them in their election manifesto. Therefore, the SAD-BJP alliance has decided to bring out a 'Super White Paper' on the state’s finances with the aim of projecting the true picture of the state’s fiscal position, said Dhindsa, who moved to table the SAD's white paper, but the same was not considered by Speaker. SAD in its white paper cornered Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, who was on a similar position in SAD-BJP ruled in 2007 and had presented the 2007-08 budget.
SAD highlighted that Manpreet had during his addressing had said that the previous Congress government while demitting office did not leave behind the state’s fiscal situation in good health. "Sluggish revenue receipts and sharp increase in expenditure led to fiscal deterioration," SAD quoted Manpreet Badal's address.
The uproar over separate white papers of both Congress and SAD-BJP halted House's working for half an hour. As the House resumed again, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal proposed a bill to pass Punjab State Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, 2017, which was passed by the House unanimously. Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal introduced the Bill in the House.
Before the Bill was passed, former finance minister and Akali leader Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Aam Aadmi Party legislator Kanwar Sandhu and BJP MLA Som Prakash spoke on the issue. Sandhu expressed concern over increase in the price of agriculture inputs and equipment under the GST regime because of “high tax rates”. The AAP legislator said that Punjabi cinema will be hit after the GST rollout. He sought to know whether states will lose financial autonomy with the GST coming into force.