Chandigarh, Mar 24 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today hailed the state’s budget 2018-19 as a milestone one, with its focus on multi-sectoral growth, and expressed the confidence that it would put the state on the path of high growth.

However, opposition Akali Dal and AAP dubbed the budget as “directionless”.

Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal dismissed the budget as “directionless, meaningless and devoid of vision”.

Dismissing as totally unfounded and misleading the statements of SAD-BJP on the budget, the Chief Minister told mediapersons that this budget would lead the state back on the path of growth and prosperity to bring it out of the vicious cycle of fiscal mess into which the previous government had plunged it.

The budget proposals for 2018-19 were presented before the Assembly here today by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal.

Amarinder challenged the Akalis and the BJP to list even one tangible success they had achieved in terms of development and prosperity of the state “during their decade-long misrule”.

“They had completely ruined the state’s economy with their ill-conceived policies,” he pointed out, adding that the current budget was not only progressive, balanced and people-friendly but provided a roadmap to put the derailed economy on the track by ensuring all-round development of the state. The current budget had taken due care of all sectors of state, be agriculture, industry, health, education, employment generation or, above all, the welfare of disadvantaged sections of the society, said the Chief Minister.

Amarinder recalled that his government’s maiden budget last year had been an endeavour to improve the fiscal health of the state through meticulous long term-planning to restore financial discipline in line with the provisions of FRBM Act-2003, “which the previous SAD-BJP Government had blatantly violated to pursue its vested interests.” Taking a step forward, this year’s growth-oriented budget would further consolidate the recovery that the state had started showing in the shape of its improved financial health, he added.

Industry body CII also hailed the budget as balanced and cautious, aimed at provisioning something for each strata and also bringing in some degree of fiscal prudence and resource mobilisation.

Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal dismissed the budget as “directionless, meaningless and devoid of vision”.

“It documents the government’s betrayal of the farmers, the dalits and the poor, the youth, the employees and the helpless senior citizens,” Badal said in a statement here.

“It does not read like an economic document at all and is full merely of empty and baseless statements about the so-called intent of the government. It is clear that they have not given any serious thought to planning or to making programmes and policies for the glory of the state and to solving the problems facing the people,” Badal said.

“The budget documentary in fact reads like a White Paper on the government’s black deeds of the past one year. These black deeds include betrayal of every section of society, particularly the farmers, the dalits, the youth, the senior citizens and women.” Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged that the “budget is a written proof of this government’s betrayal of every section of Punjabi society, particularly of the farmers, the farm labour, the dalits, the youth, the employees, the women and the senior citizens.” “The government has stabbed the farmers in the back going back on its promise of Rs 90,000 crore debt waiver… the government blatantly lies about its commitment to the farmers,” he alleged.

Sukhbir Badal said that the government claims that it will levy no fresh taxes “but then it talks of additional resource mobilization of Rs 9,000 crore, which is a clear proof that it will burden the Punjabis with taxes later.” “The budget also puts in writing the government’s betrayal of the employees as it refuses to make any commitment on the Pay Commission,” Sukhbir said.

Terming the budget as “directionless”, AAP said the ruling Congress had failed to deliver on its promises, including a full loan waiver for farmers and jobs for youth.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.