Punjab government hoping to save Rs 2,000 crore by rationalizing expenditure

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Chandigarh, December 11: The Punjab government is hoping to save Rs 2,000 crore by rationalising the expenditure of various departments and plugging revenue leakage as it looks to become a revenue surplus state in the next three years.

“We are expecting to save Rs 2,000 crore in the current financial year with the rationalisation of expenditure of government departments. We are asking the departments to plug in loopholes and any revenue leakage to reduce fiscal burden,” state Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said here today.

Badal said he was holding weekly meetings with the concerned officials of various departments including police, health and agriculture in this regard.

Sharing details of steps taken to reduce expenditure, Badal said the government is anticipating savings of Rs 492 crore with the implementation of order in which no government department would remain opened in private buildings.

“We have also cancelled deputation of government employees as we fear leakages of salaries. We did not know where the employee was working and from which department he was drawing salary. This step will also bring some savings,” he further said.

The minister further said the state government had also taken up the issue of rationalisation of labour and transportation charges and expenditure related to gunny bags for the foodgrain procurement with the Centre, which would also result in savings of Rs 500 crore.

The departments like industry, food and civil supply and local government have also been asked to recover their pending dues under the one-time settlement scheme, he said.

Citing an example, Badal said a sum of Rs 6,000 crore was yet to be recovered from the state rice shellers.

Notably, the “cash crunched” state government has been facing acute fiscal crisis and has been even struggling to pay salaries to the government employees.

The delay in the release of the GST compensation and state’s share in GST by the Centre has also made matter worse for the state government to meet necessary expenses.

The Congress-led government had accused previous 10-year regime of the SAD-BJP government of putting the state into a “fiscal mess” while leaving a debt of Rs 2,08,000 crore on the state.

“When we came to power (in March this year), the previous government left the state with unpaid financial liabilities of Rs 13,000 crore as they diverted funds,” alleged Badal while promising to put the state’s finances on the right track.

“We are hoping to become a revenue surplus state in next three years,” said Badal.

The Punjab government in a budget presented in June this year had projected revenue deficit at Rs 14,784.87 crore for current fiscal as against Rs 11,362.02 crore for last fiscal.

Meanwhile, Badal said an interstate council meeting of the northern zone including Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh etc will take place next month in which tax rationalisation of petroleum products, motor vehicle registration tax and tourism promotion will be part of the agenda for discussion. CHS MKJ




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