SPEECH OF MANPREET SINGH BADAL ON DEBT POSITION AND AGRICULTURE

DEBT POSITION
Mr. Speaker Sir,
19.  Hon’ble Members are fully aware that our Government has inherited a heavy
debt burden from the previous Government. The details have already been presented
in the White Paper. When this government took over, it was welcomed with the
additional liability of `29919.96 crore (as on 31st March 2017) in the form of loans to
settle the so called CCL (Cash Credit Limit) legacy accounts. As a result the State
Government shall have to bear an additional `270 crore per month resulting in an
annual liability of `3240 crore for the next twenty years. Further, the government of the
day had been forcing agencies like PIDB, RDB, PUDA and others to incur debt on its
behalf. Most of the time this debt was used for purposes beyond the mandate of that
agency.
20.  I wish to bring it to the notice of this August House, that this settlement of the so
called legacy accounts and all borrowings that have been done by entities like PIDB,
RDB etc. in a period which is six months before the Assembly elections are due is in
direct contravention to the provisions of section 4(4) of the FRBM Act, 2003.+
21. The total outstanding debt of the State on 31.03.2017 is `186618 crore including
the informal debt of `4435 crore which has been raised by the State Government
through various agencies without the approval of Government of India. Apart from this,
the State Government has also been extending sovereign guarantee for loans raised by
various PSUs and other organizations. The total liability on this account is `20608 crore
on 31.3.2017. In case the PSUs fail to return this debt, sovereign guarantee extended
by the State Government, it is a Government’s liability. The total outstanding debt and
contingent liabilities, thus, comes to `207226 crore which is 403.38{8c6d3f6704cdb4d22004dc79684d70f0271dd82fcfbe654786cb18f09b659ded} of Revenue
Receipts for 2016-17 (RE) at `51371.79 crore.
22.  Often, Governments like to take comfort in a reducing Debt/GSDP ratio.
However, this comfort could be misplaced. While, an increased GSDP could improve
this ratio, the debt could still be rising. Further, Government could still fail to take
advantage of increased Revenue mobilisation because of a tardy tax administration.
This has been the case with Punjab.
23.  Sir, it is important to highlight the analysis of the growth of VAT receipts in the
background of growth of GSDP. It is a matter of serious concern that the growth of VAT
receipts has been constantly declining from 32{8c6d3f6704cdb4d22004dc79684d70f0271dd82fcfbe654786cb18f09b659ded} in 2010-11 to a meagre 3{8c6d3f6704cdb4d22004dc79684d70f0271dd82fcfbe654786cb18f09b659ded} in 2015-
16. In addition to this, if inflation is factored in for the year 2015-16, in real terms the
VAT receipts have registered a negative growth of 2{8c6d3f6704cdb4d22004dc79684d70f0271dd82fcfbe654786cb18f09b659ded}. A comparison with other states
such as Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, reveals that they
have recorded CAGR of 14{8c6d3f6704cdb4d22004dc79684d70f0271dd82fcfbe654786cb18f09b659ded} in the same period whereas Punjab had registered a
below average CAGR of only 9.62{8c6d3f6704cdb4d22004dc79684d70f0271dd82fcfbe654786cb18f09b659ded}.
24.  Unfortunately, the debt servicing (Principal + Interest) for 2017-18 is a whopping
`22396 crore against a net borrowing limit of `12819 crore approved by Government of
India for financial year 2017-18. This leaves absolutely no room for the State to invest
the borrowed money into development and build resource generating Capital assets. 

Mr. Speaker Sir,
25.  Our problems are critical. The tide is unfavourable. The news will be worse
before it gets better. There may be setbacks before the tide is turned. But turn it we
must. The hopes of all Punjabis rest upon us, whether they live here or anywhere else
in the world. We pray that we may be worthy of the unlimited opportunities that God has
given us.

26.  My optimism and faith lies in one of the biggest tax reforms in our country’s
history which is the introduction of GST from 1stJuly 2017. Experts have opined that
Punjab being a Consumption State stands to gain by this destination based tax.
With optimism I propose the following sectoral allocations and new initiatives that
are in the road map of our party’s commitment to the people of Punjab. I now present
the sector wise proposals along with the new initiatives. 

AGRICULTURE
27.   For long, Punjab has focused on increasing agriculture productivity for ensuring
India’s food security, however, this has been at a huge cost to Punjab and it has
degraded our natural resources of soil and ground water. High productivity increases
can thus no longer be sustained. The Agriculture sector is facing serious challenges. In
due course of time the increased agriculture production in other states will dampen the
demand for Punjab cereals. We have to act fast and act now. With economic prosperity,
consumer preferences will shift to more protein rich diets, further attenuating the
demand for Punjab food grains. In the last three years, the central government has
announced insignificant increases in Minimum Support Prices (MSP) as compared to
the first three years of UPA government.
28. Climate is changing faster than anticipated leading to more volatile extreme
weather events impacting yields and resulting in crop failures. The priority of the central
government for decades has been to placate the consumer and control food inflation.
The primary mitigation tool remains the farmer. Punjab being a primary producer will
continue to bear the brunt of central government priorities. It is a foregone conclusion
that incomes of farmers cannot be increased by simply growing crops for the Central
pool. We shall have to chart a completely new course. Our government shall do all that
is available at its command to increase the prosperity of the farmer. For us the key is
“prosperity of the farmer” and not just “increasing productivity”.
29.  Over the next year, we will re-orient our policies and support systems to directly
improve livelihoods of the distressed small and marginal farmers. Despite being a
leader in agriculture sector, Punjab has had no stated Agriculture Policy. The Farmers’
commission will submit a New Agriculture Policy for the state of Punjab, within the next
two months.
30.  Farm extension services have literally collapsed in the last 10 years and the
shortfall in staff has been about 50{8c6d3f6704cdb4d22004dc79684d70f0271dd82fcfbe654786cb18f09b659ded}. This has compelled farmers to be deceived into
over-use and misuse of chemicals. We shall make a road map for revival of the
extension services. Our priority is to annually reduce by 10{8c6d3f6704cdb4d22004dc79684d70f0271dd82fcfbe654786cb18f09b659ded} the use of chemicals by
farmers and input cost thereof.
31.  We propose to give thrust to organic farming and support one demonstration plot
in each block of Punjab which will be owned and operated by organic farmers by
involving farmer organizations.
Mr. Speaker Sir,
32.  If there is a section of the society which is facing utmost distress in the state, it is
the proud Punjabi farmer who has toiled for generations to secure this Nation. Punjab is
one of the most debt ridden States in country. It is unfortunate that the Punjab farmer
who produces food grains and is the ‘Ann Datta’ and has been feeding the country for
the last 70 years, had to undergo mental stress and has often been forced to take the
extreme step by committing suicide. One of the first action that this government initiated
was to salvage the farmer out of its debt burden. An Expert Committee has already
been constituted which is working on the contours of the detailed scheme. However, till
such time that I receive a report of this Committee, I am proposing an outlay of `1500
crore for waiving the debts of the distressed farmers in Punjab.
33.  To underline our priority to the Agriculture sector, I propose to increase their
allocation by 65.77{8c6d3f6704cdb4d22004dc79684d70f0271dd82fcfbe654786cb18f09b659ded} from `6383.01 crore in 2016-17 BE to `10580.99 crore in
2017-18 BE.
34.  This Government will lay major emphasis on development of horticulture in the
state to encourage diversification and breakaway from the rice-wheat cropping pattern.
This will not only help in improving the prosperity of the farmers but would also improve
the sustainability of the state’s agriculture. I believe that we need to have a specific
focus on the horticulture department and to that extent we propose to set up a new
Punjab State Horticulture Marketing Board so that the requisite focus is granted to this
highly important sector to diversify agriculture and improve farmers’ prosperity.

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