Punjab Budget: FM took suggestions, but hardly implemented them: Industry

While the AAP government in Punjab may have introduced its first paperless budget with great fanfare on Monday, it did not fit the industry in general. Before preparing the budget, Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema traveled across the state looking for suggestions from different sectors. However, the industry claimed that although the suggestions were taken by the Secretary of State, they were hardly implemented.

The Chairman of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Commitments (CICU), Upkar Singh Ahuja, said, “The industry in Punjab is feeling betrayed and very disappointed, as the allocation of funds of Rs 100 crore for industrial development is much less than industrial growth out of Rs 1,55,860 crore from the budget. The state..the industry is going through a turbulent phase. Much of the AAP budget was expected for the industry. But to the dismay of the industry, no budgetary allocation is made for export promotion and no package is provided for the Halwara Airport project in the budget.”

Industry is moving out of Punjab at a very fast pace and the neighboring countries like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan are attracting these industries with some relevant modern industrial policies.

“Therefore, the CICU is asking the Punjab government to reconsider the budget allocation and provide a good package to the industry,” he added.

Padish Jindal, Chair of All Industries Trade Forum, said, “The party, which has announced that it will terminate Inspector Raj, is now threatening us with a tax intelligence unit in its first budget. This will increase corruption in the state. The proposed industry spending has been set at 1.62% which is much lower , while 65% of the state’s social security spending. Rs. 100 crore for industrial growth is nothing but peanuts.” FICO Chairman Gurmit Singh Kolar said this budget contains absolutely nothing for the industry. He said the industry had been hit hard by the lockdowns to curb Covid-19, and had been expecting some relief package from the government, but to no avail.

Head of Fastener Manufacturers Associations of India Narinder Bamra said, “We have made a proposal to waive development tax in Punjab, but it is only on paper. If the government is focusing only on free grants and not on the growth of the industry, how will the state grow.”

Activist Kuldeep Singh Khera said: “Before coming to power, Kultar Singh Sandhwan, now the president of the Punjab Assembly, used to say in the minutes that the environment was the top priority of the AAP, but the government did not mention taking any steps in order to control water, air and soil pollution. We are already at war against a proposed textile garden near the Matiwara forest range, but the government has not made anything clear about it in its budget.”

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