State’s fiscal health worries ministers - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

State’s fiscal health worries ministers

State’s fiscal health worries ministers

Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 3

Punjab’s ministers, who met for a Cabinet meeting yesterday, have expressed “serious” concern over the state’s worsening fiscal health, especially with urban local bodies polls scheduled in February.

Most of these urban local bodies are presently under the control of the Akali-BJP combine. Elections to 120 Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats and nine Municipal Corporations, are due now. These elections will be a litmus test for the Congress and Akali-BJP combine.

However, with the state’s depleting fiscal health, there has been little development in these municipal areas. At least two ministers — Local Bodies Minister Brahm Mohindra and Transport Minister Razia Sultana — pointed out that this could be a sore point, and immediate steps were needed to boost spending.

The assessment of first seven months’ revenue has shown a fall of almost Rs 6,200 crore. As much as 48.5 per cent of this has been spent on payment of salaries and pensions; over 20 per cent expenditure has been made on payment of interest on loans. Hence, there has been very little revenue available for infrastructure or routine development in urban areas.

Sources said concerned about the shortfall in revenue, some ministers have recommended a special Cabinet meeting to firm up a strategy to mop up revenues, and use it in urban areas before the elections are announced.

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