Punjab waives 1.3 lakh agricultural loans; announces 29 new populist projects to the Assembly
Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Monday presented the latest state budget for the Punjab under the government led by Amarinder Singh with an expenditure of Rs 1,68,015 crore, for the fiscal year 2021-22 to the state assembly. On International Women’s Day, he announced that women would ride for free on government-run buses. Badal’s biggest announcement was that 49,989 state government positions would be filled in the first phase against a lakh of vacancies.
While Rs 1,600 crore has been allocated for the Smart Cities mission, the FM has allocated Rs 1,928 crore to subsidized electricity in Punjab, for the 2021-22 fiscal year. FM Singh said the government would double the old age pension from Rs 750 per month to Rs 1,500 per month.
The state government will increase the allocation under the Ashirwad program to Rs 51,000, against Rs 21,000 during the last fiscal year.
29 new schemes for farmers
Farmers will receive relief through the Rs 1,186 crore farm loan exemption which will account for loans of 1.13 lakh from state farmers. This also includes a loan waiver of Rs 526 crore for landless farmers in the next phase, as part of the crop loan waiver program for fiscal year 2021-22.
He said that in order to strengthen the existing canal systems, 29 new projects will be started and 897 crore rupees will be spent to improve the irrigation mechanisms of the canals. In order to mitigate the risk that horticulturalists face, agricultural programs have been announced, under which a base price will be set for horticultural crops.
He announced that Mohali will get the Agricultural Marketing Innovation Research and Intelligence Center. The state government has further set aside Rs 200 crore for crop diversification. Each district will be equipped with an agricultural development office, while special emphasis will be placed on horticulture with an allocation of Rs 361 crore in the new state budget.
FM Singh further announced that 3,780 crore rupees will be disbursed over the next three years, while 1,104 crore rupees have been allocated for the benefit of farmers under the “Kamyaab Kisan Kushaal Punjab” framework program.
Referring to the education sector, FM Singh announced that Rs 750 crore will be allocated for granting scholarships to 2 lakh students under the post-matric scholarship program. Rs 432 crore has been allocated for the establishment of the Interfaith Institute at GNDU.
250 schools will be modernized while the government of Badal will pay Rs 100 crore for smartphones which will be given to students in class 12. The state government will spend Rs 140 crore for digital education while all government colleges will be modernized . The FM further said that a massive amount of Rs 1,064 crore would be allocated to GNDU, Punjabi University, PAU and Rajiv Gandhi National Law University.
The FM then said that two medical schools and hospitals would be established in Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur, with an expenditure of Rs 650 crore. Mullanpur will get a unit from the Tata Memorial Hospital which will be completed by spending Rs 450 crore, FM Singh has announced.
Talwandi Sabo, Nabha, Patti, Dera Bassi Muktsar, Gurdaspur, Bhawanigarh and Raikot subdivision hospitals will receive eight new maternal and child health wings. The Government Medical College of Patiala will be modernized by bombing Rs 92 crore, he added.
Other major sectors
The FM also offered 1.513 crore rupees for the electricity subsidy to domestic consumers. Spending on the social sector has been increased to Rs 4,000 crore from Rs 2,320 crore in fiscal year 2020-21.
FM Singh then said that the Badal government is proposing to extend the GST incentives until October 17, 2022, so that more investment can be attracted to the state. Meanwhile, the State Punjabi Writers’ Pension has been increased to Rs 20 lakh in the current fiscal year, compared to Rs 10 lakh in the previous fiscal year.
The freedom fighter’s pension has been increased from Rs 7,500 to Rs 9,500 per month. He then said that a new program will be put in place to monitor water quality in villages affected by arsenic.