Chandigarh: The Punjab government on Tuesday expressed concern over the rising wage bill and said that the efforts would be made to contain it.

"We have seen substantial growth in revenue as well as in expenditure. Salary, Pension (cost) is growing at over 20 percent which is not sustainalble. We are looking at how to control the growth of salary, pension bill," Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa told reporters in Chandigarh on the sidelines of a NABARD seminar.

He said that 70 percent of state's revenue receipts are swallowed by the salary, pension bill only. Asked whether there will be a ban on recruitment or cut in salary, Dhindsa said: "Government recruitment cannot be stopped people are being hired on contract where the need arises. We will have to look at other ways. We will have to take it to the cabinet and then form a decision (in this
regard)," he said.

Mounting expenses on salary, pension had led to swelling of state's revenue deficit to over Rs 6,000 crore in 2011-12, he added. Asked whether the revenue deficit would be curtailed in 2012-13, he said, "We are working on reducing revenue deficit.

Salary bill has increased which directly impacts deficit. Though exact figure has not come but it may be slightly less or around the same (as was in last fiscal)." Asked about the forthcoming Punjab Budget, Dhindsa said that the focus would be on people's welfare and education and the efforts would be made to bring "implementable" annual plan.

He said the state had utilized over 50 percent of current fiscal' annual plan so far. Asked about the resources raised so far as part of additional resources mobilization efforts undertaken last year, he said out of projected Rs 3,000 crore of revenue, the  state will achieve Rs 1,000 crore of revenue by March 31 this year.

Asked whether government will cut down power subsidy, Dhindsa said this decision was to be taken by the party. "I work at the pleasure of the (SAD) party. I cannot comment on the same," he said.

Punjab government doles out free power to the tune of over Rs 5,700 crore. He also said the state government has been able to plug leakage of tax revenue successfully which led to growth of VAT revenue by 18-19 percent. Commenting on the Union Budget, Dhindsa said the Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had tried to do a lot with a little elbow space, but he "ended up doing nothing." "I feel that Union Finance Minister has tried to do a lot but with a little elbow space. He tried to control the Fiscal Deficit. He tried to push investment, please the electorate. But he ended up doing nothing," he said.


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