Financial set back: Centre slashes Punjab’s debt limit

Chandigarh: The central government has now given another financial blow to Punjab trapped in the debt trap. The Union Finance Ministry has slashed Punjab’s borrowing limit by Rs 18,000 crore, which is nothing short of a challenge for the AAP government. 
    It is worth mentioning that for a long time, the state’s economy is being brought to a standstill by taking new loans. Now with the reduction in the limit of borrowing from above, all avenues have started to be closed for Punjab.
     According to the details, Punjab has a borrowing limit of up to 3 per cent of its GROSS domestic product, which comes to Rs 39,000 crore annually. According to sources in the Finance Department, the Government of India has now reduced the borrowing limit of Punjab by Rs 18,000 crore annually, which means that the Punjab government will now be able to borrow only Rs 21,000 crore annually. It may be recalled that the Punjab government has implemented the old pension scheme.
    The Centre fears that the state government will stop contributing Rs 3,000 crore annually to the State Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. Similarly, the Government of India has also discontinued the annual grant of Rs 2600 crore for the development of capital assets. The Punjab government spends these funds on the construction of roads, flyovers etc.
    The central government has given the reason behind the closure of this fund that the Punjab government is violating the rules of ‘capital expenditure’. It is worth mentioning that the central government has already withheld funds of about Rs 800 crore of the National Health Mission. 
    The Centre’s objection was that the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres have been renamed as ‘Aam Aadmi Clinics’ and a portrait of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has been pasted on these buildings. 
    Health Minister Dr. Balbir Singh has already taken up the matter with the Centre. The Central Government has not yet released about Rs 4,000 crore of rural development funds to Punjab.