Punjab Finance Minister, Parminder Singh Dhindsa on 15 March 2016 presented the Annual State Budget 2016-17 in the legislative assembly. The size of budget is 86 thousand 387 crore rupees.
The tax free budget focuses on social farmers with agriculture, welfare sector, youth and women as the priority areas.
The revenue deficit in the financial year 2015-16 (RE) stood at 1.85 percent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), whereas for the year 2016-17 (BE) it has been estimated at 1.76 percent of GSDP.
On the other hand, fiscal deficit in the financial year 2015-16 (RE) stood at 2.99 percent of GSDP, whereas for the year 2016-17 (BE) it has been estimated at 2.88 percent of GSDP.
Major initiatives of Punjab Budget 2016-17:
• Swasth Kanya Yojna: Provide free school bags containing stationery items to girl students. Bags will contain “benefit eligibility card” showing benefits being provided to girls under various schemes.
• Mai Bhago Women Empowerment Scheme: Loan at subsidized rate of 5% per annum will be provided to women members to establish small business enterprises.
• Special women patrolling teams will be created.
• Women safety application, Shakti will be launched.
• 200 skill development centres will be opened for training in rural areas.
• Employability allowance of 1000 rupees per month will be provided.
• Interest free education loan up to 5 lakh rupees for the duration of the course to EWS.
• Financial Assistance will be provided to Start-ups.
• Interest free crop loan of 50000 rupees per crop to small and marginal farmers having land holding up to 5 acres.
• Insurance cover of 5 lakh rupees shall be provided to the family in case of death or disability of head of the family and family will also be entitled to free medical facility up to 50000 rupees per year, to approximately 11 lakh farmers in the State under Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojna.
• To provide for secure and stable income to the farmers, Farmers Provident Fund-cum-Pension Scheme will be started.
• Kisan Vikas Chamber will be opened in Mohali district. This chamber will help in bridging the gap between the farmers and the policy makers and to redress the problems faced by the farming community.
• Abolish VAT on raw honey and bee keeping equipment which currently attract tax rate of 6.05%. Pig feed which attracts tax rate of 6.05%, is proposed to be exempted from VAT.
• To showcase the innovative initiatives of farmers in these subsidiary occupations, and to motivate others to emulate them suitable awards shall be instituted.
• SC Scholarship Fund will be provided.
• Uniforms, school bags and stationery items will be provided to the children of Scheduled Caste families working as agricultural labourers in the state.
• 400 middle Schools will be upgraded to High Schools.
• 400 High Schools will be upgraded to Senior Secondary Schools.
• An education channel, Vidya TV will be started.
• Instead of separate cremation grounds, Common Cremation Grounds with all basic amenities will be created.
• Three Gram Panchayats will be awarded in each district for their outstanding work in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Housing and Urban Development
• Housing for All (Urban) Policy will be undertaken for the benefit of economically weaker sections.
a) 50% rebate on CLU, EDC and License fee on all affordable housing projects.
b) Additionally, 50% rebate on stamp duty charges on all conveyance deeds in the affordable housing sector.
c) 25% rebate on CLU, EDC and License fee on all new housing sector projects coming up in the State.
• Stamp duty will be reduced by 20% on the first purchase conveyance deed of all new flats.
• Two Mega Food Parks will be created, one to be set up by Punjab Agro Industries Corporation near Ludhiana and the second will come up in the private sector near Phagwara.
• To boost industrial production that will create more jobs, power will be provided at 4.99 rupees per unit to all new investments for a period of five years from the date they attain commercial production and to the existing industry on their increased additional power consumption.
• Industrial focal point measuring about 200 acres at village Pabra and Thaktu Majra near Rajpura, district Patiala.
• Another industrial focal point is also being developed at Dhanansu district Ludhiana on about 300 acres of land.
• State procurement policy will be amended to encourage local manufacturing sector. This policy would enable the state government, board and corporations to make purchases of the goods manufactured locally in Punjab.
Excise and Taxation
• Rate of VAT on cotton and other types of yarns will be reduced from 6.05% to 3.63%. 100% polyester filament yarn has been excluded from this reduction.
• “Apna Tax Scheme” will be launched for the general public. This will encourage customers to procure bills from retail vendors which would ensure tax compliance in a systematic, non-intrusive and non-regulatory manner.
• 1.65 lac tube well connections will be provided to various categories of AP applicants to whom demand notices have been issued.
• Tube well connections on priority to all those farmers who have applied for the same and have land holding below 2.5 acre
• All old tube well pump sets will be replaced with energy efficient pump sets in a tie up with Energy Efficiency Services Limited.
• 24 hours Urban Pattern Supply (UPS) will be provided to 8263 deras and dhanies.
• Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojana will be launched for providing health insurance cover of 50000 rupees per annum to 10 lakh rupees to farmers and 2 lakh rupees construction workers & small traders in the year 2016-17.
Heritage and Culture
• For promoting Punjabi language and culture, entertainments tax on cultural and theatre shows will be abolished.
• Mukh Mantri Tirath Darshan Yatra will be launched.
• 350th Birth Anniversary of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji will be celebrated at an expense of 50 crore rupees.
Preservation of Biodiversity
• Inami Bagh will be acquired and declared as a National Biodiversity Heritage site, first of its kind in the state.
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Where: Legislative assembly
When: 15 March 2016