Dhindsa presents election-year, tax-free Budget
- pt team
Dhindsa presents election-year, tax-free Budget

Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa today presented the budget for 2016-17 with focus on social welfare schemes and the youth.
Addressing the media after presenting the the fifth consecutive budget Finance Minister Mr. Dhindsa, said that a budget of Rs 86,387 crore has been presented for the state. Annual plan of Rs 25,479 crore approved for 2016-17.
The Minister said that to encourage girl students pursuing education in various Punjab Government schools, a new scheme, Swasth Kanya Yojna to provide free school bags containing stationary items to the girl students would be introduced. "Benefit Eligibility Card” showing benefits to girls under various welfare schemes would also be introduced. As many as 400 Middle Schools would be upgraded to High Schools and 400 High Schools to Senior Secondary Schools.
To empower women starting their own ventures, loan at subsidized rate of 9% per annum to women members establishing small business enterprises would also be provided under Mai Bhago Women Empowerment Scheme, said Mr. Dindsa.
Adding further, he said that the SAD- BJP government has always been taking initiatives to improve the plight of the farming community in the state. An amount of Rs. 200 crore has been kept exclusively for providing interest free crop loan of Rs. 50,000 per crop to small and marginal farmers having land holdings up to 5 acres. To bridge the gap between the farmers and the policy makers and to redress the problems faced by the farming community Kisan Vikas Chamber in Mohali district to would be set up.
As many as 200 skill-development centres for youth would be set up in the state.  Rs 20 crore would be spent on their training, mostly in rural areas. To encourage sports activities in the state, 4,000 modern gymnasiums to be set up in towns and villages at cost of Rs 200 crore. Interest-free education loan of up to Rs 5 lakh for youth from economic weaker sections has also been proposed. A start-up programme for innovative research and enterprise announced with an outlay of Rs 100 crore has also been kept amongst the top priorities of the government.
Punjab to develop 200 smart villages in 2016-17, which will have 4 G connectivity, solar street lights, Sewa kendras and sewerage and drainage facilities. Stamp duty to be reduced by 20 percent on first purchase conveyance deed on all new flats to encourage affordable housing. Reduction in collector rates for assessing stamp duty across Punjab by 15 per cent. 25 per cent rebate on EDC, CLU and license fee to all new housing sector projects to boost to real estate sector.
Punjab Budget proposes to set up Hi Tech Cycle valley in 300 acres for Ludhiana cycle industry. An Industrial manufacturing cluster in 200 acres has also been proposed be set up in Rajpura. Sourcing of goods manufactured in Punjab to be encouraged, he said.
VAT on cotton and other types of yarn (excluding 100 per cent polyester filament yarn) from 6.05 to 3.63 percent was proposed. 
Talking about new initiatives to improve the health services in the state, Mr. Dhindsa ssaid that 2,000 new health centres to be set up in Punjab where 218 essential medicines to be provided free of cost to all patients. Free blood, urine and other basic tests and emergency treatment announced for first 24 hours.
To promote Punjabi language in the state, Punjab abolishes entertainment tax on cultural, music and theatre shows and films that promote Punjabi culture and language. State government earmarks Rs 50 crore for celebration of 350th anniversary of Guru Gobind singh. Rs 140 crore set aside for Mukh Mantri Tirath Darshan Yatra programme.
The Minister also said that a new veterinary college at Rampura Phool to be set up. Rs 445 crore for animal husbandry proposed in budget. Rs 11 crore allocated for dairy development. An outlay of Rs 2,705 crore proposed for irrigation.


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