The retirement age of Punjab government employees will be reduced to 58 years from 60 years currently, a move intended to offer more employment opportunities to young people. The announcement in this regard was made by state Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal while presenting a Rs 1.54 lakh crore budget for 2020-21 on Friday.
"The retirement age of government employees has been reduced from 60 to 58 years. With this, we will be able to provide employment to three to four times the number of people who retire. We will also be able to get more talented pool of young people to serve Punjab, Badal said while addressing media later.
He said the the number of employees who will be affected by this move was yet to worked out and that the decision will be implemented in two phases. "Those who have turned 59 will retire on March 31 this year and those who are 58 will retire from September 30," said Badal.
He said at present, 3.50 lakh government employees are working in the state departments. He further announced six per cent dearness allowance arrears to the state government employees from March this year and said it would involve financial implication of Rs 1,000 crore.
The government will also implement the 6th Pay Commission recommendations in 2020-21 and for this, a sum of Rs 4,000 crore has been earmarked in the budget, he said.
Presenting the budget, Badal announced debt waiver to landless farm labourers and added that a sum of Rs 520 crore has been set aside for the same. The budget also earmarked Rs 13,092 crore for the education sector and Rs 4,675 crore for the health sector.
Badal further said 'mandi fee' — the fee levied on the sale and purchase of agriculture produce — on fruits and vegetables will be reduced from four per cent to one per cent. The minister also announced to waive Change of Land Use (CLU) charges for two years.
In the budget, Badal proposed revenue receipts of Rs 88,004 crore and revenue expenditure of Rs 95,716 crore for 2020-21.
He further said the revenue deficit for 2020-21 will be Rs 7,712 crore and the fiscal deficit will be Rs 18,828 crore. "In spite of the daunting challenges before us, we have been able to maintain the fiscal deficit at 2.61 per cent in 2017-18 and 3.08 per cent in 2018-19 as against the budget estimates of 4.96 per cent and 3.81 per cent for respective years," Badal said.
He also projected outstanding debt of Rs 2,48,236 crore for 2020-21 as against 2019-20 revised estimates of Rs 2,28,906 crore.
Badal said the state government proposes to set up two agriculture colleges at Gurdaspur and Balachaur.