Saying that ‘all is well’ with the SAD-BJP coalition, Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal said the amendment in the Punjab Value-Added Tax (VAT) Act was a collective decision of the cabinet and BJP ministers were well aware of it.
Commenting on the BJP’s tough stand on the amendment regarding the VAT refund, which was rolled back by the deputy CM earlier this week, he said SAD leaders had done nothing wrong by reminding the alliance partner of its coalition dharma. “It’s the media which twists facts to make news,” he quipped.
“Every cabinet decision is collective. It was the case for the VAT Act amendment too,” he said.
When asked why the BJP minister (Anil Joshi) had agreed to the amendment during the cabinet meeting but later criticised the government, Sukhbir said, “Ask him (Joshi) about it,” he said.
He, however, clarified that the decision was rolled back after getting feedback that it was hurting the business community in Punjab. “To prevent such a situation, I have decided to form an advisiory board which will include experts and representatives of the trading community. Now, amendments will be finalised as per recommendations of the board. I want that the industry and business should flourish in Punjab,” he added.
Sukhbir was addressing a press conference after party candidate Bhagwan Das Juneja filed his nomination papers for the Patiala byelection.
On the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC), Sukhbir said the SAD would continue to oppose it. “We cancelled our July 27 convention as per the Akal Takht’s directive, but our stand against the HSGMC is clear.”
Sukhbir win over the traders
With traders threatening to oppose the SAD-BJP candidate and the state government by holding a Patiala bandh, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal held a meeting with them and assured them that the government would resolve all issues raised by the Patiala Beopar Bachao Sangharsh Committee. “Give me some time. I will make amendments as desired by you,” he told the traders.
Rakesh Gupta, a traders’ leader, said Sukhbir had accepted a major demand by withdrawing the VAT Act amendment on input tax credit.