PHD Chamber seeks more funds for development
CONCERNED over allocation of adequate funds for developmental activities in Punjab, the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the Punjab government to allocate more funds for new projects and eventually spend 60% of expenditure on development in the last year of 11th plan. The second year of current plan provides an opportunity to consolidate the growth process in tune with the national target of 9% economic growth, says the chamber in its 2008-09 prebudget memorandum. The chamber feels that the adoption of the Punjab Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment), Act 2007, underlines the commitment of the Punjab government to restore the financial health of the state. Thus, the budget for 2008-09 provides an opportunity to implement an action plan and in this connection the chamber suggests levy of user charges to cover up 50% of cost of public economic and social services, better targeting of subsidies, restructuring of government departments and disinvestment of PSUs & rationalisation of public expenditure. The chamber feels the SAD-BJP government should follow an establishment and wage policy which provides for the total salary bill relative to revenue expenditure net of interest payments and pensions not in excess of 35% in the terminal year of 11th Plan for which a beginning be made in the next fiscal. This would be a major challenge since the committed expenditure of the government in the last fiscal was 76%. With 2008-09 Punjab budget to be presented on March 11, the chamber feels efforts towards strengthening public services and utilising public services in most efficient manner be considered. In this direction, the tool of E-governance be employed in a holistic manner and ‘Digi-Gov’ be adopted as a state policy to enhance productivity and efficiency.It cites that Gujarat has implemented this with some success. With value added tax (VAT) having benefitted the state in terms of sizeable revenues, current target being Rs 5,800 crore, its implementation needs to be fine tuned.