Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Monday presented a budget of Rs. 1,55,860 crore for the year 2022–23, which is 14 per cent higher than the year 2021–22. This is the first budget presented by the Aam Aadami Party-led government in Punjab.
Presenting a paperless budget, Finance Minister Cheema said that from July 1 this year every household would get 300 units of free electricity every month. However, the government did not announce any scheme to give Rs. 1000 a month to women above 18 years of age, a promise that AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal had made during his election campaign in the state.
After presenting the budget, the Assembly proceedings were postponed till Tuesday.
Cheema told the House that the focus of the government would be to contain the deteriorating financial situation, increase income, reduce debt and ensure effective and efficient use of public funds. Wasteful expenditure would be reduced. The government will focus on health and education. Striking a positive note, Cheema also said, “We will extract nectar from the turbulent seas.”
Earlier, the Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann announced that it would be a paperless budget. Finance Minister Cheema claimed that the paperless budget would save Rs. 21 lakh to the state exchequer. At the same time, 34 tonnes of paper will also be saved. This in turn will save about 834 trees.
Cheema told the House that in 2011–12, Punjab got 23 per cent income from the Central government. This income increased to 46 per cent in 2021–22. During this period, the state taxes came down from 72 per cent to 48 per cent. The tax collections have decreased by 24 per cent due to which Punjab remains dependent on the Centre for financial assistance.