With the purpose of reviving the iron and steel industry, the Punjab cabinet on Monday decided to slash value-added tax (VAT) from 4.5% to 2%, plus 10% surcharge, besides reducing advance tax on finished goods to 2.5%.
As per an estimate, the implementation of the new VAT regime would cost the government Rs 200 crore annually.
In an attempt to woo the business community, the Punjab cabinet on Monday decided to introduce a social security scheme for this section of society. The decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
A spokesperson said this scheme would cover 1.86 lakh dealers and businessmen, who have a turnover up to Rs 1 crore. However, the businessmen covered under any other social security scheme of Punjab would not be eligible for this scheme.
Under this scheme, three insurance covers would be extended to beneficiaries: life insurance (accidental death and disability insurance) to provide a cover of Rs 2 lakh per beneficiary, including accidental death and permanent or partial disability; health insurance cover to provide cover for meeting expenses of hospitalisation for medical procedures up to Rs 50,000 per beneficiary; fire insurance (a cover of Rs 5 lakh per beneficiary for losses caused due to fire would be available). The government would spend Rs 25 crore annually on the insurance premium.
10% rebate on property tax
In a major relief to the public, the cabinet also gave the green signal to a proposal put forth by the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal's (SAD) coalition partner BJP to give 10% rebate on property tax deposited up to March 31, 2014, instead of the earlier date of December 31, 2013.
It was also decided to reduce the rate of property tax on residential properties under rent from existing 7.5% to 3%. The rate of penalty has also been reduced from 25% to 10%. The penalty rate has been decreased from 100% to 20% in case of deposit of tax after the expiry of the financial year, but an interest at the rate of 18% would be charged.
At places where the collector rate has not been fixed separately for industrial value, then the market value would be considered as 75% of the commercial collector rates. It has also been decided to give exemption up to Rs 5,000 per annum to gallantry awardees servicemen/ ex-servicemen.
Panel empowered to penalise officers
The cabinet also okayed to promulgate an ordinance empowering the Right To Service Commission to levy penalty on the designated officers who fail to provide services within the stipulated time period, by amending section 17(1) of the Punjab Right To Service Act 2011.
The cabinet also gave approval for establishment of 25 posts of Punjab Superior Judicial Services (additional district and sessions judge) and 80 posts of civil judge (junior division-cum-judicial magistrate) along with the supporting staff. This would help in reducing the huge backlog of cases in judicial courts.
The cabinet also gave nod to appoint the welfare department as the nodal department for monitoring of the implementation of the Schedule Castes sub plan (SCSP).
City bus service
Cabinet approved the exemption to city bus service from all motor vehicle taxes within municipal corporation limits of cities/towns in the state.