Punjab CM pegs April revenue shortfall at 88%

The Chief Minister said around 20,000 international travellers were expected to return to Punjab in three-four weeks, in addition to around 12,000 who had registered in other states for coming back.
Amarinder Singh
Senior Congress Leader and Punjab CM Amarinder Singh

Chandigarh, May 6 : Pegging the April revenue shortfall at 88 per cent, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, here on Wednesday, said with all tax revenues dried up and only 1.5 per cent industry operational, Punjab was facing a difficult situation.

Participating in a virtual meeting of Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states with party chief Sonia Gandhi, along with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi, he shared Punjab’s Covid containment strategy and the roadmap for economic revival amid absence of the central support.

Sonia Gandhi asked the Chief Minister to convey her congratulations to Punjab farmers for a smooth procurement season. The Chief Minister said over 100 lakh tonnes wheat had arrived at mandis, and the procurement process was expected to be complete by mid-May.

As against the estimated revenue of Rs 3,360 crore for April, only Rs 396 crore had been received, he said. The power consumption had declined 30 per cent causing a daily loss of Rs 30 crore in tariff to Punjab State Power Corporation.

The state’s Rs 4,365.37 crore GST arrears were yet to be paid by the Centre, he said.

The initial report of the group of experts, headed by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, on the economic and industrial revival of the state was expected in three months, he said and added, it would take one more month to refine and finalise it.

However, despite the financial crunch, the Punjab government was committed to contain coronavirus and taking steps to upgrade the healthcare system, he said.

The Chief Minister said the decision on classification of zones as red, orange or green should be left to the states, which, in turn, could authorise the Deputy Commissioners to demarcate the area as per the ground realities.

He pointed to Patiala being classified red zone, even though Nabha — a major milk-producing area — was located in the district.

Punjab has four containment zones and four red zone districts. Fifteen districts are in the orange zone and the remaining three in the green zone.

Sharing an update on the Covid-19 in the state, which has reported 1,451 positive cases with 25 deaths (mortality rate of 1.72 per cent), the Chief Minister said there had been a spike in cases after Punjabis residing in other states, like Rajasthan and Maharashtra, started returning.

Of the 4,200 Nanded returnees, 969 tested positive, though only 23 were symptomatic.

Stating that some results are awaited, he said the situation would stabilise in three-four days once all such people were tested. All returnees are now being checked and quarantined, he added.

The Chief Minister warned of high risk of spread of infection from those returning to the state, especially workers returning from the Gulf states in crowded ships.

Four ships ferrying migrants, mostly labourers, were expected in few days, while the first plane with NRIs would reach Punjab on Thursday, he said.

The Chief Minister said around 20,000 international travellers were expected to return to Punjab in three-four weeks, in addition to around 12,000 who had registered in other states for coming back.

On the migrant workers wanting to go back from Punjab, he said 10 lakh had registered. Of this, 85 per cent belonged to UP and Bihar. The state, he said had sanctioned Rs 35 crore to foot train travel cost of these workers.

Three trains left on May 5 for UP and Jharkhand, and six more were scheduled for May 6.

All returnees to Punjab would be kept in one-week isolation until tested for coronavirus, he said. Persons testing negative would be placed in home quarantine for two more weeks, while those testing positive would be admitted to containment wards, he added.

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