Cong: Back-door taxation of rs 500 crore
Chandigarh March 23:
After failing to adequately substantiate “fudging” in the state budget for days together, the Congress has finally got its act together to claim that an amount of Rs 1,150 crore has been fudged even as it said the government had gone in for a back door taxation of Rs 500 crore, nullifying claims of a tax-free budget.
Punjab Pradesh Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh had in a debate on the budget claimed that the same was fudged and had demanded a white paper on the issue besides amendment of the document. However, the party had failed to substantiate its charges effectively.
Now, former state Planning Board deputy chairman RR Bhardwaj has come out with figures to substantiate the Congress’ allegations. He claims that the SAD-BJP government has artificially increased revenue by showing more revenue expected from centrally-sponsored schemes than ever possible and reduced expenditure, particularly power subsidy.
Bhardwaj says money likely to be received as central grants has been deliberately inflated to reduce revenue deficit. He says last year the government had revised it estimates of money available from central grants from Rs 998 crore to Rs 723 crore. He said this revision had taken place because the State did not have the resources to pledge a matching grant for these schemes. Bhardwaj said it was strange that a government, which had revised its estimates for central grants last year, had now doubled the same to Rs 1,468 crore.
Claiming that fudging of Rs 700 crore had taken place in figures relating to Central schemes, the Congress leader, like former Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, claimed the power subsidy Bill had also been fudged. Bhardwaj said the power subsidy, which had been revised to Rs 3,492 crore last year after being estimated at Rs 3,120 crore in last year’s budget, had now been reduced to Rs 3,020 crore. He claimed fudging of around Rs 450 crore had been done on this account also.
Bhardwaj also claimed that Finance Minister Upinderjit Kaur had wrongly claimed that last year’s plan utilisation would be 97 per cent. He said the government had achieved a utilisation of only 58 per cent till December 31 last year despite reducing the plan size by Rs 220 crore. He said this Rs 220 crore was the money sacrificed on account of Centrally-sponsored schemes.
The Congress leader also claimed that contrary to claims, the government had levied a burden of Rs 500 crore on people by enhancing the fee for providing basic infrastructure services in areas bounded by town planning. He said this fee had been increased by up to nine times for commercial properties and up to five times for residential properties. He added that this measure had been passed clandestinely on February 2 without putting it up for debate in the budget.