Punjab Budget 2023: A sharp focus on the education sector

Harpal Singh Cheema

Harpal Singh Cheema, Punjab’s finance minister, on Friday, unveiled the state’s 2023–24 budget, which is an increase of 26% from the previous year. It contains no new taxes and places the greatest emphasis on the farm, education, and health sectors. In his first complete budget, Cheema unveiled a number of new initiatives, including a programme to reduce market price risk for the horticulture industry, a programme to support young entrepreneurs, a programme to solarise agriculture pumps, and two coaching programmes for students.

Effectively, there is a fiscal deficit of 4.98 percent and a revenue shortfall of 3.32 percent of the gross state product (GSDP), respectively.

The Punjab Young Entrepreneur Program has been introduced under the umbrella of education in to encourage Class 11 students to submit their unique business ideas. The government would assist them by giving each pupil seed money of Rs 2,000. For this reason, a budget allocation of Rs 30 crore is suggested. For the installation of rooftop solar panels in government institutions, the finance minister suggested allocating Rs 100 crore.

Two new programmes were suggested by the finance minister: Professional Coaching for Employment and Soft Skill and Communication Training. Under these programmes, students will receive professional coaching by creating employability coaching centres in government colleges.

The budget was harshly criticised by the opposition parties, who claimed that it had shattered the expectations of the common citizen and that the state would soon become heavily indebted.