The Punjab government stares at the revenue loss of Rs 20,000 crore in 2020-21, with Rs 7,000 crore in the first quarter of the current financial year itself due to the lockdown imposed in the state amid coronavirus outbreak.
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal told Business Today that the state had imposed the lockdown much before other states because of a large immigrant population, most of whom hail from first world countries in North America and Europe, currently the coronavirus hotspot. Punjab had announced statewide curfew on March 22 to contain the spread of coronavirus.
"In more than 30 days of curfew, not a single rupee has come from taxes on petroleum, registration of properties, lotteries or GST. In April, we see a revenue loss of Rs 5,000 crore and Rs 1,000 crore each in the subsequent two months," he says.
The immediate fallout of this loss of revenue is the capital expenditure worth Rs 10,000 crore in the current financial year, which he says will have to be deferred to next financial year.
Punjab has budgeted for Rs 88,000 crore revenues in the current financial year, of which Rs 35,824 crore was supposed to be generated through different taxes. It has also estimated capital expenditure of Rs 59,000 crore of which Rs 10,820 crore was the capital outlay. Capital outlay denotes the expenditure that leads to creation of assets.
On whether the Punjab government will ask for a special financial assistance package from the Centre, Badal said: "We can prepare a report and send it to the Centre asking for financial support, but it is also a fact that even Centre does not have enough resources to offer financial assistance to all the states. While it is easy for an opposition state to criticice the Centre and put pressure on it over financial assistance, it will not be prudent on our part to do so because we know even the Centre does not have enough resources."
He says the Centre cannot go about printing money because it will have adverse impact on the rupee -- which he says might fall from Rs 77 a dollar to Rs 100 a dollar - and on the credit ratings of the country. "We are just one step away from junk rating and once our rating is downgraded to junk status, companies will not invest in our country," says the Punjab finance minister, who clearly hinted that a large stimulus package from the Centre looks difficult.
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