Despite lockdown and economic downturn amid Covid, the state government has been able to better manage its finances in the last financial year as compared to the previous fiscal.

The revised estimates of the government’s finances for 2020-21 reveal that the state had managed to achieve 84.62 per cent of its revenue targets for the last fiscal. In 2019-20, before the pandemic, the state had managed to achieve just 75.48 per cent of its targeted revenue collection.

The accounts for 2020-21 show that the state had achieved 81.84 per cent of its estimated tax revenue collection (Rs 40,595.81 crore against target of Rs 49,845.61 crore) and 48.59 per cent of its targeted non-tax revenue (Rs 3,909.92 crore against a target of Rs 8,045.99 crore).

Comparatively, in the previous year, Punjab had achieved just 78.47 per cent of its targeted tax revenue and 47.91 per cent of its targeted non-tax revenue. It may be mentioned that in the past several years, the collection of non-tax revenue in the state has always been low, in spite of the issue being deliberated upon and this being a focus area for improving the state’s finances.

In every parameter, other than receiving the state’s share of Union taxes, Punjab has outperformed itself over the previous year. Punjab was targeting to receive Rs 14,021.16 crore as its share from the central taxes, but it received just Rs 10,631.35 crore between April 2020 and March 2021. The collection of capital receipts (recovery of loans and advances, borrowings, etc), too have been higher this year (at 66.39 per cent of the target of Rs 18,873.13 crore) as against just 38.14 per cent of the target achieved in 2019-20. As a result, the total receipts in 2020-21 were at 81.40 per cent of the target set for the year, against just 63.89 per cent of the targeted revenue achieved in 2019-20.

Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal told The Tribune that good performance on the financial front was because of the will of people to take the state forward. “Punjabis are industrious and perform well in adverse situations. The state’s share from Union taxes has been lower because the Centre’s own tax collection in the last fiscal was hit badly due to pandemic,” he said.

The state managed to keep its expenditure under check and against an estimate of Rs 95,716.04 crore, Punjab spent Rs 81,483.55 crore in 2020-21. The only head in revenue expenditure, where the state has spent more than its target, is on payment of pensions (Rs 1,324.66 crore is the additional expenditure). As a result, the state has been able to reduce its revenue deficit from a targeted Rs 7,711.73 crore to Rs 7,015.35 crore — a reduction of Rs 696.38 crore.

Source: 14 May, 2021, The Tribune