Sawinder kaur, Chandigarh:

With the state’s revenue receipts falling by a whopping 21% in the first quarter of FY 2020-21, and no financial support forthcoming from the Government of India, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh will now undertake monthly review of the fiscal situation for more efficient management of the limited resources.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the Council of Ministers, where the Chief Minister agreed to Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal’s suggestion to draw short-term financial plans on quarterly basis in view of the critical situation since the beginning of this fiscal, on account of the Covid outbreak and the prolonged lockdown.

Manpreet warned that faced with its own revenue shortfall, the Government of India was likely to pull back finances even further from states in the coming quarter. The funds expected from the Centre in the first quarter had not come, thus leaving the state government struggling to cope, he pointed out.

Expressing concern over the situation, the Chief Minister said he will hold monthly review meetings to take stock of the fiscal state of Punjab, taking into account the routine expenses, such as salaries, power subsidies, social welfare pensions etc.

Earlier, highlighting the grim fiscal situation prevailing in the state, Principal Secretary Finance, KAP Sinha, said as of June 30, the share of Central Taxes for Punjab had gone down by 32%.  The Grant-in-aid from Centre for the March-June period showed an increase of 38%,  but that was mainly on account of the GST receipt of Rs 3070 crore received in April, which included Rs 2366.46 crore against pending arrears for FY 2019-20.

While state’s own tax revenue fell by 51%, the first quarter decline in the state’s non-tax revenue stood at 68%, Sinha informed the Cabinet, adding that more prudent measures would need to be taken to survive the current crisis.

Earlier, the Cabinet also reviewed the Covid situation in the state, with the Chief Minister appealing to all to be extra cautious in view of the increasing number of cases. The state government’s expert health advisor Dr KK Talwar said the next four weeks were critical and every individual would have to take full precautions for their own safety and the safety of others.