- Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government completes a month in Punjab today
- On the 16th we will give a great good news to the people of Punjab, Mann had said
- Mann also met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Saturday announced 300 units of free electricity for the people of the state. The announcement comes as Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government in Punjab completed one month of governance in the state today.
This was one of the first crucial pre-poll sops announced by AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal on June 29, 2021. The state has already been providing free power to the farmers, besides 200 free units to the Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and BPL families.
Opening the helpline — 9501-200-200 — Mann, whose party swept to power winning 92 of the 117 seats, had earlier said people should not say ‘no’ if they are asked to pay bribe. Instead, they should make a video and send it to the given number, through WhatsApp.
The other prominent achievements include the announcement to fill 25,000 new government jobs, regularisation of service of 35,000 contractual workers and the rollout of doorstep delivery of rations for the poor, the model the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi had tried to implement but had to stop following objections by the Centre.
The Punjab government had also announced to transfer more than Rs 2,000 crore to the bank accounts of farmers towards minimum support price (MSP) payments.
A government statement said Rs 828 crore had already been transferred to their accounts so far.
The timeline for another major pre-poll promise of providing a stipend of Rs 1,000 per month to all women above 18 years of age is yet to be made public by the government. This bonanza is likely to cost over Rs 15,000 crore annually to the government whose financial crisis is set to worsen with a debt likely to cross Rs 3,00,000 crore.
Banking largely on freebies to woo the electorates, the AAP had also promised to suitably compensate financially Anganwadi and ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists) workers.
After staking claim to form the government, Mann promised AAP would provide a good Cabinet and make historic decisions.
However, the ever-increasing salary and pension burden and rising debt and interest leave scope for development, admit officials.
As per official figures, the total outstanding debt of Punjab as on March 31 was projected at Rs 2,52,880 crore, which is 42 per cent of the GSDP for 2020-21 and the outstanding debt is likely to be Rs 2,73,703 crore in 2021-22, which is 45 per cent of the GSDP.
Twenty per cent of the annual budget is being spent only to pay the interest on the loans.
As per the latest findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the state’s financial crisis is set to worsen with the debt likely to reach Rs 3.73 lakh crore by 2024-25.
The government officials said the state’s debt has increased by Rs 1 lakh crore in the past five years under the previous Congress government, largely owing to populism.