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Manpreet Badal urges employees to end strike, says govt stood with them during COVID

Chandigarh, August 19, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)

Punjab Finance Minister Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal on Wednesday said that the Punjab Government has stood by its employees and pensioners despite the financial constraints due to nationalwide lockdown imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. It has paid 100% Salary and Pension to them and has been paying it on time without any delay.

Urging all the employees to terminate the strike, resume the office and help the State Government fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal said that the State Government has even allowed Provisional Pension to the employees retiring from January 2020 onwards, so that no one has to face financial crunch on account of the lockdown.

He further stated that the state government has lived up to its 5 mantras— salaries, pensions, subsidy to powercom, debt servicing and disbursing old-age & social security pension- it has not defaulted for a single day. The State Government has also increased the ex-gratia grant to Rs. 50 lakhs payable to the dependents of government employees who die while on duty fighting the novel coronavirus, he added.

The Punjab Government had imposed a state-wide curfew w.e.f. March 23, 2020 as to break the contagious COVID-19 transmission chain, he said, adding that the economic activity came to a standstill during the lockdown.

However, with the relaxations in lockdown and the economy opening up, there has been a revival in some sectors, though many sectors remain subdued. The State, as a precautionary measure in the interest of citizens, has continued with the weekend lockdown from June 13, 2020, onwards.

Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal said that however, the State’s effort to break the transmission through the imposition of lockdown/curfew has also meant a significant loss of Revenue and Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).

The state has foreseen a shortfall in revenues that could be even more than the initial assessment of 25% of Total Revenue Receipts (BE). It could lead to an even higher shortfall of about Rs. 26,400 crore i.e., about 30% of our Total Revenue Receipts (BE) in 2020-21.

The State is now staring at a loss of about 30% in Revenue Receipts, making it imperative for the State to take all steps it can to reduce, if not bridge this shortfall, the Minister said.

“Due to the lockdown, the State has witnessed a shortfall of 80% in the State’s Tax Revenue collections in April 2020 against the budgetary targets. This is a decrease of 77% compared to the previous year (2019-20).

Further, if we see the financial position for Quarter 1 (2020-21), the State’s Revenue has registered a shortfall of Rs. 5576 crore i.e., 54% as against budgetary targets. Further, the revenue collections have decreased by 42% compared to the previous year’s corresponding period”, Mr. Badal informed.

He said that though the economic activity has picked up in July, the financial position is still gruesome as the State’s revenue collections have registered a shortfall of Rs. 6935 crore in the first four months (i.e., April- July 2020) against the Budgetary Targets.

He pointed out that the state faces “double whammy” — one on the fiscal front, and another on the health front with the challenge of generating necessary resources for establishing Health-related infrastructure and making provisions for health-related services for fighting COVID-19.

He stressed that with little support from the Central Government, and despite fiscal constraints, the State has fulfilled its obligations. With the announcement of the lockdown, States like Telangana, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan had imposed a 50%-60% salary cut on its employees to reduce their expenditure.

Further, States like Orissa and Andhra Pradesh ordered a deferment of 50% of salary payment but Punjab Government has been paying full salaries to its employees on time.

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