CHANDIGARH: Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore on Tuesday said that the State government was mulling over bringing out a ‘White Paper’ on development, governance reforms and the financial position of the State, clearly apprising the common man of the present situation inherited by the incumbent Government.
In his address during the first session of the fifteenth Punjab Assembly, Badnore said that the State government has inherited an empty treasury, with a revenue deficit of Rs 13,484 crore and a fiscal deficit of Rs 26,801 crore.
Large borrowings coupled with lack of any concerted efforts to increase the revenue and control expenditure has aggravated the financial stress. During the last five years, 2012-2017, the targets of State Excise and VAT revenue collections were never achieved.
Badnore further said that during the last 10 years, the total debt of the State has increased from Rs 48,344 crore between 2006-2007 to Rs.1,82,537 crore at the end of 2016-2017. The State Government during 2015-16 and 2016-17, had borrowed Rs.15,632 crore on behalf of the Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd. (PSPCL) alone. In order to settle the gap in Cash Credit Limit (CCL) for food, the government had agreed to a term loan of Rs.31,000 crore which has further burdened the State.
Even the Atta Dal Scheme and the urban and rural missions were undertaken by borrowing huge amount of money from commercial banks, mortgaging a large number of the State’s properties.
Badnore said that the Punjab government will forcefully take up the issue of term loan of Rs.31,000 crore with the Union government to help the State. In addition, it shall establish an Expenditure Reforms Commission to examine all government expenditures to ensure prudence and efficiency in spending by various departments and other organizations funded by the government.
In consonance with objectives and the assurances given during the elections to vastly improve governance Badnore pointed out that the State government has decided to establish a new Governance Reforms and Ethics Commission (GREC) in Punjab comprising experienced professionals.
Likewise, to lend a degree of probity to the conduct of persons in public life, the State government has decided that all MLAs and MPs should declare the details of their immoveable properties on 1st January every year, and for the year 2017- 18, they would do so by 1 July 2017. The existing Punjab Lokpal Act shall be repealed and in its place, a more comprehensive legislation, which would be applicable to all persons occupying high public offices, including the chief minister, ministers, non-officials and officials shall be enacted, Badnore asserted.
Reassuring his government's commitment to fulfill the promises to the people of the State to provide employment opportunities to unemployed youth, Badnore said that it would be the government's endeavor to provide 'Ghar Ghar Mein Naukri', a job per household in the State, in a time-bound manner.
Employment Bureaus (EBs) shall be established in all districts, which will be manned by qualified professionals and specialists, including Employment Counsellors.
Badnore further said that a Comprehensive job creation scheme, namely "Shaheed Bhagat Singh Employment Generation scheme” under which schemes like ‘Apni Gaddi Apna Rozgar’, ‘Harra’ (Green) Tractor Scheme (35 to 50 HP) and Yaari’ Enterprises will create employment for the youth. The government shall give free smart mobile phones to eligible youth in order to encourage and incentivise them to use digital technology in their daily life.
The government shall establish referral mohalla clinics for every 1000 population, both in rural and urban areas. Annual preventive health check-ups for those above 55 years of age would be conducted across the State so as to screen them for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, cancers etc., thus ensuring a disease-free population of the elderly, and to also reduce their financial burden in the future.