SPEECH OF MANPREET SINGH BADAL FINANCE MINISTER, PUNJAB PRESENTING the Budget For The Year 2017-18

NRI AFFAIRS

Friends of Punjab- Chief Ministers Garima Gram Yojna
147. A large number of Punjabis with their sheer hard work, dedication and
commitment have established themselves successfully in all spheres of life on foreign
soils. These Punjabis have not only helped the state and national economy but have
also brought laurels by making contribution across many fields. Many of our NRI
brethren feel an urge to connect themselves to their roots in Punjab. The State
Government therefore, has taken a new initiative by launching a scheme ‘Friends of
Punjab’. Under this scheme, NRIs would be encouraged to connect with their villages.
Adequate support shall be provided for implementing this scheme during the year.

OMBUDSMAN
148. A lot of NRIs face problems either relating to their property or other matters. The
NRIs come to the State only for a short period during a year and cannot afford spending
long time. With the objective to redress their grievances effectively in a time bound
manner, the State Government is bringing a new legislation to create an
‘OMBUDSMAN’ for NRI Affairs, to redress the grievances of the NRIs.
149. The State Government is committed to the welfare of NRIs in the State, and
proposes to enact ‘NRI Property Safeguards Act’ for safeguarding the property of NRIs
for ensuring rule of law and easy and quick delivery of justice in the State.

DIGITAL PUNJAB INITIATIVE
150. The Government in its efforts to bring efficiency, transparency, accountability,
ease of availing services by the residents and to curb corruption in public service
delivery intends to launch Digital Punjab, a project that envisions complete back-end
computerisation of all Government departments and digitisation of legacy data for
providing Government to Citizen (G2C) and Government to Business (G2B) services in
a time bound manner. The project will be scaled up by including more services over the
next two years. Digital Punjab would also integrate electronic payments & receipts,
Mobile Apps while undertaking comprehensive Government process reengineering
(GPR) to ease the G2C services. With the launch of Digital Punjab initiative all Citizens
and NRIs will be able to avail a variety of services from the comforts of their homes from
any corner of the world thereby eliminating the need to visit the Government offices.
The Department of Governance Reforms will provide the technical assistance to all
departments to realise the vision of this Government.

FOOD & CIVIL SUPPLIES
MODIFIED ATTA DAL SCHEME
151. This Government has given top priority to the welfare of weaker sections of the
society and will also ensure that prices of all the essential commodities remain within
the reach of the common man. The Atta Dal Scheme will be restructured and a modified
scheme will be launched using Smart Ration Cards to the beneficiaries. Apart from this,
Tea leaves and sugar shall be provided to BPL families. An amount of `500 crore has
been provided for this in 2017-18.

BORDER AREA INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
152. The Border districts of the state have suffered a lot and have lagged behind due
to their proximity to the international border, due to wars with Pakistan and a long spell
of cross border terrorism. Farmers living in Border areas face acute hardship as they
cannot cultivate cash crops. The problems are compounded by inadequate accessing
facilities to the farmers after the erection of fencing along the International border.
Border areas are also lacking in basic amenities of Education, Health, Sanitation,
Transportation, Roads etc. The lack of environment for development of industries and
marketing infrastructure has further accentuated the problems of the local population.
Manufacturing sector in the state especially in the border belt has been rendered totally
uncompetitive due to tax sops offered by the Government of India to the neighboring
states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

153.  Recognizing the development needs / hardships being faced by the people of the
border area, our Government is formulating a special Border Area Infrastructure
Development Programme with an outlay of `300 crore in 2017-18, for upliftment of this
area which would inter-alia include creation of new social and industrial infrastructure.
Under the New Industrial Policy of State special incentives will also be provided to the
development of these areas. This is in addition to `85 crore provided under Centrally
Sponsored Scheme under a similar programme in which State share is `40 crore.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Mr. Speaker Sir,
154. We all owe it to our future generations to leave this Mother Earth in a better
position for them. While Energy is an important ingredient for any developing economy,
we must use more and more energy from renewable energy sources.
155. We are committed to main streaming the Renewable Energy projects & systems
for meeting the energy needs of farmers & community at the village level by installation
of Renewable Energy systems i.e. Solar Pumps, Solar Street Lights, Solar Photovoltaic
Rooftop plants etc. This year we plan the Solarisation of 2000 Agriculture pump sets in
the State of Punjab with an 80{8c6d3f6704cdb4d22004dc79684d70f0271dd82fcfbe654786cb18f09b659ded} subsidy component. Given the resource constraint I am
proposing a budgetary provision of `100 crore in this regard for 2017-18.

REVENUE DEPARTMENT
156. The village Chowkidars generally come from the poor sections of the
society doing every duty assigned to them by the village community at odd hours. The
village Chowkidars have been assisting the State Government functionaries and the
village panchayats also since long. It is felt that the honorarium given to the
Chowkidars needs to be enhanced and accordingly, the Government has increased the
honorarium given to the Chowkidars to `1250 per month. Approximately 10540
Chowkidars would be benefited by this decision.

CIVIL AVIATION
157. The Regional Connectivity Scheme will be implemented by providing air
connectivity with the four airports of Bathinda, Adampur, Ludhiana and Pathankot. The
State Government will bear the pro rata cost of Viability Gap Funding with the
Government of India as per the MoU signed.
158. The State Government will also provide the basic services and subsidized
aviation turbine fuel to make the air services fully functional.

ROADS AND BRIDGES
159. This government is committed to building robust road and bridges infrastructure
& more importantly maintain the existing one. While we want to do a lot more, we are
constrained by the lack of resources at our disposal this year. Nonetheless, I propose to
make an allocation of `873.17 crore for the Public Works Department for construction
and maintenance of new roads, bridges& buildings.

EXCISE & TAXATION
Goods and Service Tax (GST)
160. The Parliament of India has already passed the crucial taxation bills of
Goods and Service Tax (GST). Punjab has been at the forefront of supporting an early
introduction of GST. The migration of existing tax payers to GST is already underway.
For smooth introduction of GST in the State, the Department of Excise & Taxation has
undertaken a massive outreach programme through more than 100 workshops for
interaction with tax payers and professionals in making them aware about the proposed
tax reform. We shall provide all facilitation and help to the Trade and Industry in
ensuring a smooth transition to GST regime. The State shall also appoint a Tax
Ombudsman to address the grievances of the trade and industry, objectively and
impartially.
161. GST would be the important structural change in our Tax administration. It will
have huge impact on the movement of goods and services across the country and I
envisage that Punjab would gain with the introduction of GST through a broadened Tax
base and improved compliance. Since GST would come into effect from 1st July 2017, I
don’t propose to make any change in the Tax structure, at this stage.

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