Budget For The Year 2017-18
to the
Punjab Vidhan Sabha
JUNE 20, 2017

Hon’ble Speaker Sir,
As I rise before you and this august assembly to present the maiden budget of
the Indian National Congress Party Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh Ji, I
am suffused with feelings of gratitude as well as vulnerability; with a sense of good
cheer tinged with melancholia; with the consciousness of the mind and heart of the
weight they carry; with a sense of frailty as well as hope and optimism. In fact, the
challenges that face the State are truly daunting and require all the strengths and
virtues associated with our Punjabi heritage viz. dynamism, vitality and the never-saydie
optimism to surmount the problems that we have allowed-over time-to loom over us
and which now threaten to overwhelm us.
2. History teaches us that a nation is defined by the character and culture of its
people and not by the topography and geography associated with the regions within its
boundaries. Over the centuries, the names of innumerable cities and countries have
disappeared and lie forgotten in the annals of history. Yet, despite having faced some of
the fiercest challenges known to mankind, the name Punjab – the Land of the Five
Rivers – has persisted since antiquity. For centuries, Punjab has sent millions of its
finest sons into great danger, to fight for the dignity and freedom of this nation and its
people. All we have ever asked for, in return, is enough land to bury those sons that did
not return. And it is not land, but courage, that is the solid foundation on which this
ancient, land was built.
3. Mr. Speaker Sir, the greatest privilege of my life has not been to bear any
particular office, but to have served Punjab, and to have played a part in the effort to
augment the nobility of this ancient land. True nobility is exempt from fear, and Punjab
has since time immemorial been known to be a land of brave men. When brave men
are confronted with adverse fortune, they do not cry or cower before it, but confront its
blows with resilient hearts. Men of courage are also full of faith, and today we ask the
people of Punjab to have faith that together, with the strength endowed to us by our
forefathers and the blessings of God almighty, we shall overcome the hurdles that lie in
our path.
4. Because it is fair to say that in recent years Punjab has made mistakes.
Everybody makes mistakes, but only fools persist in their error. It is the task of this
Government, led by Hon’ble CM Captain Amarinder Singh Ji, to rectify those errors, put
Punjab back on the path of progress and enable this state and its talented people to
regain our lost magnificence. And it is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that
great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character and wise judgment.
5. In ancient Greece, Socrates had to consume hemlock to shake the Greek people
out of their stupor. Nearly a century ago, a young man of this land, whom we know as
Shaheed Bhagat Singh, kissed martyrdom at a tender age, because he wanted to
shake the conscience of the people. The Government of Captain Amarinder Singh
Sahib finds inspiration in them and in our own modest way, this Government wants to
stir the people of Punjab.
6. I am reminded of the hauntingly beautifying lines of the great poet Allama Sir
Mohd. Iqbal. I quote in original:-
Pirona Ek hee Tasbi Mein, En Bikhrey Hoe Dano Ka,
Gar Mushkal Hai Toh Iss Mushkal Ko Aasan Karke Chhodunga.
Dikha Dunga Jahan Ko Jo Meri Aakhon Ne Dekha Hai,
Tuzey Bhee Aee Surte Aaiena, Hairan Kar Ke Chhodunga

(Stringing these scattered beads in one rosary,
is difficult though, surmounting odds I will ease it out.
Will show to the world, what my eyes have been,
O mirror of my face, I will leave you dazzled too)

7. The task of the Finance Minister is never enviable, especially in Punjab where
fiscal prudence is the need of the hour. But I do believe that we desperately need to
wed the traditional Punjabi love for extravagance and magnanimity with our famed
pragmatism and down to earth ability to take difficult decisions. The task of this
Government is that of a canary that guides the coal miners from the darkest recesses of
the earth outwards towards light. We have no doubt that in the discharge of our
responsibilities; Government led by Hon’ble Captain Amarinder Singh Ji may count on
the whole hearted cooperation of every member of this august house.
8. The primary objective of our Budget is to provide a clean and an efficient
administration to the people of Punjab and to restore to the State its original stature as
the pride of India. We would like to reiterate our firm resolve to eradicate poverty, to
provide social justice as well as for the uplifting of the scheduled castes, the backward
classes and the other weaker sections of the society. The Government is fully
committed to secularism and shall ensure that communal harmony and public peace
and order are maintained at all costs
9. The Government faces the daunting challenge of fulfilling its promises to the
people of Punjab under extreme budgetary pressures. In the first year, our focus will be
twofold: to gradually reduce the crushing burden of debt that the State is under and to
restore its fiscal health while at the same time taking immediate measures to ensure
efficient use of resources already allocated by minimizing waste and improving
accountability. We are to achieve this by gradually expanding and strengthening the
financial resource base and improving the delivery of public services by making sure
that our schools and other educational institutions improve significantly their
performance. We shall ensure that our hospitals offer better services and the offices
that deal with and deliver public services enhance their efficiency greatly. To achieve
this, here again, my Ministry will look to the leadership and guidance of the Hon’ble
Chief Minister, the cooperation of my Cabinet colleagues and the vast Government
machinery as well patience, cooperation and fortitude of the people of the Punjab. I am
reminded of the beautiful words of a great poet from the Punjab:-

Na Rha Chand Sitaron Ka Main Muhtaz Kabhi,
Apni Mehnat Ke Sada Maine Ujale Dekhe,
Tazkra Uss Ne Lakiron Ka Wahin Shodh Dea,
Jab Najumi Ne Mere Hathon Ke Shale Dekhe.
(I have never been beholden to the stars and planets.
I have always seen the light of my endeavours.
The astrologer Immediately left analysing the lines on my palm.
The moment he saw the blisters of my hands).

10. I can invite attention here only to the leading facts of our state finances. Details
have been set forth with elaborate care in the lucid Explanatory Memorandum by the
Finance Secretary. I must attempt a survey un-encumbered by details to help Hon’ble
members to form a definite and sure picture of our finances.

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