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Punjab: Government unveils Rs 2 trillion budget for FY25, prioritizing health and education

March 6, 2024

Punjab’s Finance Minister, Harpal Singh Cheema, unveiled the state’s budget for 2024-25, totaling Rs 2.04 lakh crore. The budget includes plans for a new canal project and initiatives to transform government schools into ‘Schools of Brilliance’ and ‘Schools of Happiness.’ Importantly, no new taxes were introduced.

With a focus on health, education, and agriculture, Cheema introduced the Punjab Horticulture Advancement and Sustainable Entrepreneurship initiative to enhance product quality and establish horticulture crop clusters. Despite silence on the promised Rs 1,000 monthly for women, Cheema assured its fulfillment, highlighting the fulfillment of 85% of guarantees made before the 2022 polls, such as free electricity.

Describing it as a “pro-people” budget, Cheema emphasized no fresh taxes. Anticipated excise revenue for 2024-25 is Rs 10,350 crore, crossing five figures for the first time. Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann praised the budget as a step towards inclusive development.

Opposition leader Partap Singh Bajwa criticized it as a “failed” budget. The proposed outlay for 2024-25 is Rs 2,04,918 crore, allocating Rs 9,330 crore for agricultural power subsidies and Rs 7,780 crore for free electricity to domestic consumers.

Cheema allocated Rs 575 crore for crop diversification, Rs 13,784 crore for agriculture, and Rs 16,987 crore for education. The effective revenue deficit and fiscal deficit are expected to be 2.77% and 3.80% of the state GDP, respectively, lower than the previous fiscal.

The Malwa canal project aims to reduce groundwater reliance and optimize Beas-Satluj river water. It covers 1,78,000 acres, benefiting farmers in multiple districts. In education, Cheema outlined plans for ‘schools of eminence,’ ‘Schools of Brilliance,’ and a ‘School of Applied Learning,’ with a total allocation of Rs 100 crore in FY25.

Health initiatives include funding for Aam Aadmi Clinics, sports nurseries, and a Rs 249 crore allocation for strengthening healthcare. Cheema also criticized the central government’s withholding of the state’s rightful share, affecting developmental works.

The budget allocates Rs 10,635 crore for the Home Affairs, Justice, and Jails Department, supporting law enforcement initiatives. Additional proposals include the Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Scheme and increased pensions for war widows, ‘Dharmi Faujis,’ and war jagirs.

Source: PTI

Also read: Punjab: Man caught dressed as girlfriend to take test on her behalf

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