The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Monday said the Congress-led Punjab government had committed "fraud" with the people by coming out with a budget which relied on heavy borrowing but delivered "nothing" to the common man. Terming the budget as a "farce", former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said the Congress government and Finance Minister Manpreet Badal had played a "cruel joke" with the people by misstating facts and refusing to keep aside funds for fulfilling commitments to the people be it farmers, youth or government employees.
"The budget also discriminates against the underprivileged by not allocating appropriate funds for social welfare schemes," he said. Dhindsa said there was no provision in the budget for implementing the pay commission.
He claimed that funds had also not been allocated for giving Dearness Allowance (DA) arrears of employees. "Pensions and even the Shagun Scheme will suffer because appropriate provisions have not been made. Even SC students have suffered because the State misused central funds meant for post matric scholarship scheme for two years," he said.
The Ashirwad scheme, earlier known as Shagun scheme, is a state government initiative for providing financial help to the girl's marriage under the Department of Welfare of scheduled caste and backward class. Stating that the finance minister could not "befool" the people that his government had reduced state taxes on petrol and diesel, the Akali leader said the fact was that Punjab was the last to reduce these taxes when every other state had given this relief to its people.
"The government should refund the money taken unfairly from the people," he added. Dhindsa said the budget figures suggested that the government had borrowed an additional Rs 30,000 crore for budgetary funding in the last two financial years and would borrow Rs 20,000 crore more in the third year of its term.
He said this was "unprecedented" with the SAD-BJP government borrowing only Rs 90,000 crore for budgetary funding during a period of 10 years. The former FM alleged that the rampant borrowing by the present state government itself proved that no targets had been set for fiscal consolidation.
He said no attempt had been made to balance revenue and expenditure figures. In a bid to "cover up" the misstatements it was making, the Congress government had invented a new word "unfunded gap" and pegged it at Rs 2,323 crore, Dhindsa said.
"This term does not exist in economic parlance and the FM should explain why he has not tried to match revenue and expenditure figures," he said. He also questioned the FM as to what he would spend if he did not have any income as no attempt had been made to mobilize resources.
(With inputs from agencies.)