Punjab today faces a grim fiscal scenario with a cash-strapped SAD-BJP coalition government delaying payment of salaries to its employees, VAT refunds to industries and clearing its fuel expense bills.
The situation appears to be bad with the opposition party Congress demanding imposition of financial emergency in the state that had voted the coalition for the second term last year.
The state government on its part attributed the state's "weak" fiscal situation to low revenue growth due to slowdown in economy.
The state government staff claimed their salaries had been delayed beyond a month while government-aided school teachers have also claimed non-payment of their salaries for the last six months.
"We have not been paid salary for the past six months despite the state education department having given its approval for payment. The finance department has stopped the release of payment which is worked out at Rs 60-70 crore," Government Aided School Teachers & Other Employees Union (Punjab), President, Gurcharan Singh Chahal claimed.
"It has been very tough for 4,200 teachers, principals and other non-teaching employees who have been without salary for such a long time," he said while announcing that a state-wide agitation against Punjab Education Minister Sikander Singh Maluka would be launched on October 9.
Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa ascribed the current fiscal health to low revenue growth in the first quarter of this fiscal, saying the situation would improve in the following quarters.
"Our fiscal situation is not as bad as is being projected...yes, there is a slow growth in revenue but our revenue growth is at 10 per cent and better than Haryana's tax revenue growth of 5 per cent," Dhindsa said.
Asked about transferring government properties to PUDA under Optimum Utilisation of Vacant Government Land Scheme for raising resources, he said the money generated from it would be spent on capital expenditure only.
"We will spend the money raised from it on capital expenditure only..we have funds for payment of salaries and wages", he said.