Chandigarh, June 19 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Monday that his government had inherited a debt burden of over Rs 2.08 lakh crore from the decade-long rule of the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP rule in the state.
"My government had inherited a shocking Rs. 2,08,051.96 crore debt, as per the White Paper tabled in the House, and the crisis was worse than anyone had anticipated or imagine," he told the Punjab assembly.
Earlier, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal tabled a 'White Paper' in the house giving details of the finances and total debt of Punjab.
Amarinder said that despite the state's poor financial condition, he had announced the waiver of loans for small and marginal farmers to take forward several of his pre-poll promises to the people.
Based on the interim report of an experts group under economist Dr. T Haque, the Chief Minister on Monday announced waiver of crop loans Afor small, marginal farmers up to 5 acres, with Rs 2 lakh relief for other marginal farmers, irrespective of their loan amount.
He also announced hike in ex-gratia for families of the farmers who suicide families to Rs. 5 lakh from the existing Rs 3 lakh. While announcing continuation of free power subsidy for farmers, he appealed to the big farmers to give up the same voluntarily and immediately announced that he was doing so for his own farms.
Coming down heavily on the erstwhile Akali Dal government for "the total mess it had left the state in", the Chief Minister said: "The 'White Paper' clearly brings out the financial mis-management, imprudence and bankruptcy of thoughts and skills of the previous regime, and shows that the Congress government has inherited an empty treasury.
"The fiscal deficit of the State as on March 31, 2017 stood at Rs. 26,801 crore, which is likely to increase after actual figures of 2016-17 are available."
Amarinder also announced a new Lok Pal bill, which would bring the Chief Minister, ministers and all bureaucrats in its ambit.
Even as the Akali Dal legislators walked out, Amarinder lashed out at the opposition "for raising unfounded issues out of restlessness".
He demanded that the the opposition leaders y should come clean with the names of those involved in sand mine auctions during their regime.
Amarinder reiterated his government's stand on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, saying they would not allow the canal to be constructed at any cost as the state had no surplus water to share with others.
Citing facts and figures to show the success of the government's war on drugs, the Chief Minister appealed to the opposition to join hands in the effort. He warned all those involved in drugs to quit or face stringent action.