A day after a group of experts described free power to farmers as “highly regressive”, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday (August 14) said there was no question of withdrawing free electricity to farmers in the state, News 18 reported.
The group of experts, led by the former deputy chairman of the erstwhile Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, in its first report submitted to the government, also said it had limited the “government’s ability to incur other expenditures essential for Punjab’s development”.
Reacting to this, Amarinder Singh was quoted as saying, “As long as I am here, free power to tubewells will continue.”
The group, which includes leading economists and industry experts, was tasked to recommend to the Punjab government a short-term as well as a medium-term action plan, including a financial management strategy along with other policy measures to revive the state’s economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.
“This stress will be intensified in the current year because the expected fall in the GSDP/GDP (gross state domestic product) will be reflected in a fall in the states own tax revenues and also in its share of revenues from the centre on account of devolution,” as per the report.
Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal warned Amarinder Singh against the withdrawal of free power to farmers, saying the move would face still resistance from his party.