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Manpreet Blames SAD ‘Misgovernance’ For Punjab’s Poor Fiscal Health

CHANDIGARH -  “Dekhte hi dekhte kafila lut ta chala gaya;

Hai sad afsos lutne walon ko bhi khabar nahi hui.”

This poetic rendition was given by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal as he described the poor fiscal health of the state while presenting the vote-on-account. He sought the permission of the House to okay the supplementary grants of Rs25,199 crore, the money spent over and above the Budget estimates for this fiscal.

Calling the fiscal mess left behind by the previous Akali-BJP government as sheer misgovernance, he said he was appalled at how the government could be so off the mark in presenting its Budget estimates that Rs25,000 crore was spent over and above that. “Meri zubaan katti jave….but these people (pointing towards the Opposition benches where the Akalis were seated) have left generations of Akalis in chains of slavery,” he said, adding that future earnings of the next five years of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB), Punjab Mandi Board and several other government undertakings, had been hypothecated by the previous government with various banks.

Though former Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa and Bikram Singh Majithia did try and defend his party’s government by saying that there was no illegality in spending funds, he was silenced by Local Bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who said, “Tu na idhar udhar ki baat kar, bata karwan kyun luta.”

He also accused the Akalis of doing “chori te seena zori”, when the Akali MLAs tried to scream against the tirade launched against them.

Manpreet’s tirade against the previous government continued through most part of the session, who said: “Angrezan ne vi Punjab nu ihni buri tarhan nahin lutteya jiven pichli sarkar ne luttya hai (even the British did not plunder the state as was done by the previous government).”

Manpreet said they were working to bring austere governance in Punjab. “No one will be spared… I have no choice,” he said, reiterating his government’s commitment to fix responsibility for the fiscal mess and to conduct a third-party audit of the PSPCL and the PIDB.

For a change, if only for a brief while, Leader of Opposition HS Phoolka too supported the Finance Minister’s decision to bring a White Paper. He, however, insisted that the White Paper should cover the fiscal mess which had been created under different governments during the past 20 years.

Sukhpal Khaira, too, supported him, saying the custodians of the treasury were the ones who looted it, and urged the Congress against making political appointments that would be a drain on the state exchequer.

Congress MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa demanded that the government punished all, including the bureaucrats, who helped the previous government in cheer haran of Punjab.

Manpreet, who presented the vote-on-account for Rs29,389 crore for the first three months of the next fiscal, beginning April 1, said that the White Paper on the state of economy was being prepared and it would be presented in the House during the Budget session. He sought the permission of Punjab Vidhan Sabha to consider and pass Rs29,389 crore.

Other than this, the Vidhan Sabha passed the supplementary grants worth Rs25,199 crore (of which Rs6061.38 crore is on the revenue account), which is the amount that was spent over and above the budgetary estimates.

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