"The Budget will ensure prosperity of all sections of the society, especially the poor and underprivileged," Badal, who was not present in the Assembly when Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa presented it, said in a statement. He said the "zero tax" Budget has taken care of all the core sectors -- health, education, power, infrastructure, social security and others. The Chief Minister said the Budget is "balanced and growth oriented" and will further propel the tempo of overall growth and development of the state.
He said special allocation of funds worth Rs 109 crore to combat drug abuse and cancer, besides making budgetary provisions for safety of women, eradication of unemployment among the youth and steps to keep fiscal stress in check, spoke volumes of the government's commitment to take on these issues on a war footing. He lauded the proposed allocation of Rs 500 crore for imparting skill development training to nearly three lakh youths during the current fiscal.
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal congratulated Dhindsa for coming out with a Budget "targeted at fuelling infrastructure growth besides focusing on fiscal consolidation".
Punjab head of BJP, SAD's ally, Kamal Sharma described the Budget as "development oriented and progressive." "Utilising the minimum resources, the FM has successfully presented a Budget which gives due weightage and relief to all sections of the society," he said in a separate statement.
Congress Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha and former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the Budget is a "statement of admission of fiscal failure and incompetence" of the Akali-BJP government in the state. "Not that anybody had expected any miracles from the Budget, but it would be so disappointing was beyond imagination," he said in a statement here. Lashing out at Badal for not being present in Assembly at the time of the presentation of the Budget, Singh said, "This only reflected his lack of sincerity and seriousness towards the state".
Referring to the debt, which is estimated to be Rs 1,13,053 crore by the end of the current fiscal, Singh said, this was quite worrying as the government seemed to be neither sincere nor serious about taking any curative measures.
Singh also questioned the statement of the Finance Minister taking "pride in the "meagre" annual growth rate of 5.25 per cent when states like Bihar and Gujarat had crossed 12 per cent growth rate.
While the government has admitted that the state has not been able to fully achieve targets of revenue deficit set out in the Fiscal Consolidation Path recommended by 13th Finance Commission, it has neither done anything nor suggested to do anything about it, he said. He said last year the state had estimated a revenue deficit of Rs 1,750 crore while it actually went to Rs 5,242 crore.
Singh said the Budget has failed to address expectations of everybody including the unemployed, agriculture sector or the industry, which have just got passing references.
Punjab Congress President Partap Singh Bajwa described the Budget as "lacklustre, listless and betrayal with the people." In a statement, he said Dhindsa seemed to have resorted to accountancy rather than coming out with a cohesive approach to the state economy. On Badal's absence from the Assembly, he said it was simply unprecedented and reflected the importance given to this exercise by him. "It seemed Badal was more concerned with other issues for the reasons best known to him rather than the future of the state of which he is the Chief Minister," he said.
The PPCC chief asked the government to come out with the details of resource mobilisation which, he said, was missing in the budget speech. In the absence of resource mobilisation, it was just a meaningless exercise, he said.
He criticised the government for "unimplemented promises" with particular reference to laptops for students. He alleged that the government had given a quiet burial to this scheme as there was no provision for the same in the Budget. "The Budget lacks policy direction or any indication of seriousness of the government to take care of the deepening financial crisis whose effects are going to be multi-dimensional. This land of seers, sages and gurus has already turned into the land of addicts. The budget lacks in any vision and his is a hopeless exercise," he added.