Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Monday delivered a strong response to the “false propaganda” propagated by the opposition leaders regarding the debt incurred by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Punjab Government.
Cheema, addressing a press conference, laid out a detailed account of the state's financial status, debunking the allegations while also appealing to Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit for assistance in retrieving Rs 8,145 crore in dues owed by the Union Government.
The issue of state’s mounting debt came into focus after Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had written a letter to Governor Banwarilal Purohit, urging him to take up the matter of pending Rural Development Fund with the Prime Minister and President. In response, Governor Purohit highlighted the state's mounting debt while requesting Chief Minister Mann to provide details of its utilization.
Shedding light on the staggering amount of Rs 27,000 crore paid as interest on loans taken by previous administrations, including those led by the SAD-BJP and Congress, Cheema underscored that the current Mann Government had successfully negotiated reduced interest rates on past debts, saving the state significant funds.
Cheema said Punjab had raised a total debt of Rs 47,109 crore. This sum encompassed Rs 32,448 crore during the fiscal year 2022-23 and an additional Rs 14,661 crore between April 1, 2023, and August 31, 2023. He emphasized that a significant portion of this debt had been utilized to service interest on previous loans, support institutions like PUNSUP and Punjab State Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank, and clear pending power subsidies owed to PSPCL.