Punjab Congress to boycott debate on budget

Chandigarh: Main opposition Congress on Wednesday announced boycott of the ongoing budget debate in Punjab Assembly, alleging that the figures presented by the SAD-BJP government were nothing but "a bundle of lies and half truths".

As the general discussion on the budget estimates for year 2011-12 commenced, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh read out an eight-page speech with the Speaker's consent, amid stiff opposition from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Tikshan Sud.

Amarinder said, "If the government wishes to go ahead, disregarding the constructive approach we have suggested, we feel that it will be futile for us to associate ourselves with this ritual of passing the budget, which is nothing, but a statistical mirage and a bundle of lies and half truths.

"We will instead, go to the people, who I am sure will caste away the offensive stench of nepotism and corruption perpetrated by this Akali-BJP combine and put this government where it belongs, into the archives of history," he said.

The moment Amarinder ended his speech he told the House that the Congress members will be boycotting the debate on budget. The debate on budget, which started today, will conclude on Friday.

He also demanded that the state government should bring out a white paper on true state of its finances and the measures it proposes to undertake to rectify the fiscal mess for which the Congress was for discussion in the Vidhan Sabha.

Speaking about the fiscal condition of Punjab he alleged that, as per budget estimates of 2010-11, the public debt of the state is Rs 71,086 crore and the interest on it is Rs 5,763.66 crore. However, this is only half the story, he added.

"If we add to it the borrowing of public sector undertakings, deferred liabilities and unfunded liabilities of the government, the debt burden would crosses Rs 1,25,000 crore," he said.

"This government in just four years has added more to the debt liability of the state than all the governments put together in 41 years since 1966," he alleged.

Meanwhile, refuting the charges Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal told reporters in press gallery that "opposition had accepted defeat without entering the battle field."

"We presented a perfect budget which left little with opposition to do...in fact opposition has no issue...they have run away from the battle field," he said.