Punjab needs investments worth Rs.30 bn: minister

September 30th, 2008 - 10:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Sep 30 (IANS) Punjab needs investments worth Rs.30 billion ($652 million) to ensure prosperity of all sections of the society, state Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said here Tuesday.”We have to generate this money to put into the ailing education and health sectors of the state. People are dying here due to lack of medical facilities, and education sector suffers due to lack of funds,” Badal told reporters.

“We have plans to generate this money by streamlining our tax collection system. In 2008, from April to August there is a 40 percent increase in the collection through value-added tax (VAT). Punjab is at the third place in the whole country in the collection of VAT,” he added.

The minister said his first goal was to increase the economic plan size of the state by 25 percent every year.

“Before our government was formed, the revenue deficit of the state was Rs.17 billion. Last year we brought it down to Rs.12 billion and this year it is around Rs.10 billion,” said Badal.

Speaking about the upcoming projects, He said the state will have an oil refinery in Bathinda, four power plants and two central universities in Amritsar and Bathinda in the next 36 months.

Currently, Punjab is reeling under a debt of Rs.570 billion. Every year the state can borrow Rs.450 billion from the Reserve Bank of India.

“There is no harm in borrowing as we are taking this money for developmental purposes,” Badal said.

He was happy with the state’s agricultural growth, but expressed concern over the industrial situation. In the last 20 years, there was no significant improvement in the industrial front.

“We have to make provisions of around Rs.5 billion every year to buy infertile land for setting up industries. We have to start buying land and need around 10,000 to 20,000 acres for industrialisation,” said Badal.

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