CHANDIGARH: Cash strapped Punjab government which is yet to pay the salary for November to its employees will give 1.6 lakh smartphones to female students of Class XI and XII on Republic Day next year as promised by Congress in its manifesto.
According to sources, 3.5 lakh state government and 1.5 lakh semi-government employees are yet to get paid along with four lakh pensioners. The salary bill of these employees for the pending month is about Rs 2000 crore. Bills in various treasuries of the state to the tune of Rs 5000 crore are pending too, sources added.
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh tweeted, "This 26th Jan, when we celebrate the Republic Day, we will start the 1st Phase of smartphone distribution. 1st batch of 1.6 lakh smartphones will be given to girl students of Class 11 & 12. Hoping that these phones will help them in their studies & make them more tech-savvy.’’
This 26th Jan, when we celebrate the Republic Day, we will start the 1st Phase of the smartphone distribution. 1st batch of 1.6 lakh smartphones will be given to girl students of Class 11 & 12. Hoping that these phones will help them in their studies & make them more tech-savvy. pic.twitter.com/AfIJY6xVCQ— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) December 2, 2019
Sources said police personnel, teachers, including those teaching in universities, power, health and healthcare staff were yet to receive their monthly salary for November but the state government is all set to distribute these 1.60 lakh smartphones in the first phase to the Class XI and XII girl students to fulfil its election promise under ‘Mobile Phones to the Youth’ scheme. The smartphones are reportedly being bought from mobile company Lava for Rs 85 crore.
The delay in the release of Rs 4,100 crore by the Centre as GST compensation for the months of August and September has put the state government in a spot.
The government has till date not released the Rs 5,500 crore subsidy to the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited and another Rs 2,150 crore default on electricity bills of the various government department. It has to pay Rs 300 crore salary of employees of power department.
Speaking to Express, president of PSEB engineer association Sanjeev Sood said, "Even contract workers are not paid. Tomorrow, we will do a gate rally and even then if we don't get our salary, we will also go for 'No Pay No Work' like other power employees."
The state power corporation has 35,000 employees.