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Punjab Budget on March 10

It will be for the first time that AAP will be presenting its full fledged Budget.

Centre Court Developments

It is time for various State Governments to present their Budgets for the next fiscal year. While Haryana Assembly is already in session, the Punjab Government has also decided to convene its Budget session early next month by announcing March 10 as the date for the presentation of the Budget for the year 2023-24 on the floor of the State Assembly.

It will be for the first time that AAP will be presenting its full fledged Budget. Though it came to power in March last year, it had little time to prepare and present a full fledged budget. As such it had to get a vote on an account passed in March before coming out with its Budgetary proposals later.

Finance Minister Harpal Cheema has a challenging time in presenting a Budget that can meet strong criticism from not only a weak opposition but  strong public aspirations and expectations. Many of the promises the ruling party had made on the eve of the State Assembly elections in 2022 are expected to get their due in the March 10 speech of Harpal Cheema. One of the foremost of these promises is monthly financial assistance to all eligible women of the State.

Though the AAP government has honoured some of its commitments, including “zero electricity bill”, it is still grappling with a plethora of problems facing the State. In its fight against the sand and gravel mafia, it has achieved some success in supplying these essential building raw materials at controlled prices in some parts of the State. But the task is still far from the dome.

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Equally challenging is the task of handling the growing menace of drugs in the State.

Another major problem facing the State has been employment. Though the State has invited captains of industry and trade for the InvestPunjab summit later this month, it still has a long way to go to revive industry in the State.

The Finance Minister is expected to make some announcements for wooing investors from both inside and outside the country to infuse a fresh lease of life in the State economy that has been tottering to the brink  because of growing problems in the agriculture sector. Since Agriculture is losing its economic viability, farmers have been searching for alternatives. Unless the Government comes in support in a big way, agriculture will continue to dwindle.

Then there are issues of health care, education, basic civic amenities and looking after old and weaker sections. Hopes are high and it is a challenge for Harpal Cheema who to keep all sections of society happy in his March 10 Budget.

Prabhjot Singh 

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