Reacting sharply to the Punjab government's decision to impose cess on electricity, petrol and diesel, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar demanded a white paper on the state's financial health.
He said the Akali-BJP government had mischievously deferred the announcement on new taxes and cess in the budget session of the assembly to avert a face-off in the Vidhan Sabha.
The government has been lavishly releasing cheques to political followers at sangat darshan functions to gain cheap popularity at the cost of the state exchequer, but has not been able to ensure the payment of salaries to its staff regularly, he added.
Jakhar said consumers in Punjab would now have to pay Re 1 more on each unit of electricity consumed, whereas the cess was only 30 paise in the states of Delhi, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, 15 paise in Bihar, 10 paise in Haryana and 9 paise in Chandigarh.
He said power generation by state-owned thermal plants had been drastically reduced, as only four units out of 14 of the three thermal plants of the state were functioning, with the cost of power generated in these plants being only Rs 3.60 per unit.
Jakhar claimed that by keeping these units shut, the state government was pursuing its hidden agenda of paying Rs 4.30 per unit to the private power plant based at Rajpura. At the Lehra Mohabbat plant, only 250-MW power is being generated against its capacity of 920 MW, he said.
Jakhar slammed the state government for forcing the industry to shift to other states by creating a negative environment. "The cess on fuel and electricity will further lead to migration, which has already affected the state's economy and employment avenues," he added.