Mann-led AAP govt’s first Punjab budget

The Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government tabled its first budget on Monday for a “new Punjab”, headlining it with the prepoll sop of 300 free units of electricity to each household from July 1, no new taxes and increased allocation to health and education.

Another of AAP’s big promises — Rs 1,000 a month to every woman — didn’t make it to the Rs 1.5-lakh crore budget that FM Harpal Singh Cheema termed “a gamechanger”. Reading out the budget provisions from a tablet, Cheema said the free-electricity scheme would cost the exchequer Rs 1,800 crore, which the government was “prepared to finance by cutting wasteful expenditure and enhancing revenue”. The increased outlay for key sectors include a 16.2% hike in the amount earmarked for school and higher education, 48% more for technical education, 57% extra for medical education and an additional 23.8% for health care. Promising 16 new medical colleges over the next five years, Cheema announced Rs 200 crore for “Schools of Eminence” .

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