Punjab government presents Rs 2 lakh crore budget, focus on educational initiatives

An outlay of Rs 16,987 crore was announced for the education sector, which is around 11.5 percent of the total estimated expenditure for the state.

Punjab government proposed to transform 100 primary government schools into ‘schools of happiness’. (Image: PTI)Punjab government proposed to transform 100 primary government schools into ‘schools of happiness’. (Image: PTI)

Press Trust of India | March 5, 2024 | 08:20 PM IST

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Tuesday presented the state's budget with a total outlay of Rs 2.04 lakh crore for 2024-25, announcing a new canal project and proposing to transform government schools as 'Schools of Brilliance' and 'Schools of Happiness' but did not impose any fresh tax. Keeping the budget's focus on health, education and agriculture sectors, the finance minister also announced a new initiative Punjab Horticulture Advancement and Sustainable Entrepreneurship to improve product quality and develop horticulture crop clusters in major production zones.

The budget remained silent on giving Rs 1,000 monthly to each woman, which was one of the key "guarantees" of the AAP before coming to power in 2022. Replying to a question on his party's key promise during media interaction later, Cheema said it will soon be fulfilled while claiming that 85 per cent "guarantees", including free electricity, which were announced before the 2022 assembly polls, have been honoured. Terming it a "pro-people" budget, Cheema further said no fresh tax has been imposed. Cheema said the revenue from excise is expected to reach Rs 10,350 crore in 2024-25 and asserted that the collection would cross five figures for the first time.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann hailed the budget 2024-25 as a step forward towards carving out 'Rangla Punjab' through inclusive, balanced and comprehensive development of the state. The opposition leader Partap Singh Bajwa (Congress) dubbed it a "failed" budget. In his budget, Cheema proposed an outlay of Rs 2,04,918 crore for the financial year 2024-25, up from Rs 1,99,076 crore in 2023-24 (revised estimates). The budget has earmarked Rs 9,330 crore towards power subsidy for the agriculture sector and Rs 7,780 crore for providing free electricity of 300 units per month to domestic consumers. While announcing several new initiatives, the finance minister allocated Rs 575 crore for various crop diversification schemes for farmers.

Schools of eminence

Cheema said Rs 13,784 crore has been earmarked for the agriculture sector and Rs 16,987 crore for the education sector. The effective revenue deficit and fiscal deficit are expected to be 2.77 per cent and 3.80 per cent of the state GDP, respectively, he said, adding that the two respective figures were 3.13 per cent and 4.12 per cent in the previous fiscal. Cheema further said the government has proposed a Malwa canal project, which aims to reduce reliance on groundwater and optimise under-utilised Punjab's share of Beas-Satluj river water during the Rabi period. The new Malwa canal project will cover approximately 1,78,000 acres, benefiting farmers in Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepur and Muktsar districts, he added. On the education front, Cheema said the aim of the AAP government is "educated Punjab", and not "illiterate Punjab". He said 118 government schools will undergo a transformation to become state-of-the-art 'schools of eminence', whereas 14 schools of eminence have already been started. The government has budgeted Rs 100 crore in FY25 for this purpose.

100 Schools of brilliance

Besides, 100 government senior secondary schools will be transformed as 'Schools of Brilliance', he said, adding that an initial allocation of Rs 10 crore has been earmarked for the scheme. This scheme aims to elevate the quality of education and transform rural schools into centres of learning from Class 6 to 12, Cheema said. Further, to develop skills, including technical skills in students, a 'School of Applied Learning' will be established with an initial provision of Rs 10 crore. In the first phase, hi-tech vocational labs would be constructed in 40 schools, he noted. In the health sector, a total of 829 Aam Aadmi Clinics have already been established in the state and many more would be set up. "An allocation of Rs 249 crore has been made in FY25 for strengthening this revolutionary initiative further," the finance minister said.

1,000 sports nurseries

The government proposes to establish 1,000 sports nurseries for about 60,000 sports persons aged 6 to 17 in all districts of Punjab, Cheema said. During his speech, he criticised the central government, saying "it is also my responsibility to apprise this august House about the apathy shown by the Union government towards Punjab". "The withholding of the rightful share of the state, totalling Rs 8,000 crore approximately, on account of National Health Mission (NHM), Rural Development Fund (RDF), Mandi Development Fund (MDF), and Special Assistance to State for Capital Investment has directly affected the developmental works and has put additional burden on the state treasury," he said. Cheema said that the annual growth rate in the state's own tax revenue has been much higher at 13 per cent as compared to the compound annual growth rate of 8 per cent during 2012-17 and 6 per cent in 2017-22. "Our government promised 'Rangla Punjab' (vibrant Punjab) and has been focusing on key areas such as good governance, education and health," he said.

A budgetary outlay of Rs 10,635 crore for the Home Affairs, Justice and Jails Department will support their law enforcement initiatives, the minister added. Cheema said that the budget also proposed Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Scheme' for undertaking mitigation activities in the next financial year. He also proposed to increase pensions for war widows from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 per month and assistance to 'Dharmi Faujis' raised from Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 per month. 'Dharmi Faujis' were the Sikh soldiers who had quit their barracks in revolt after Operation Bluestar in 1984. Also, the pension for war jagirs (financial assistance) is being increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 per annum, the minister said.

Follow us for the latest education news on colleges and universities, admission, courses, exams, research, education policies, study abroad and more..

To get in touch, write to us at news@careers360.com.

Download Our App

Start you preparation journey for JEE / NEET for free today with our APP

  • Students250M+Students
  • College30,000+Colleges
  • Exams500+Exams
  • Ebooks1500+Ebooks
  • Certification12000+Certifications