The offer of 10% rebate on property tax is extended till March 31, after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which holds the local bodies department charge, okayed it by self in a meeting here on Friday. The offer expired on December 31 gone by.
The decision will become the government order straightaway, without going to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), major partner in Punjab's ruling coalition, for consent. It's doing unto deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal what he did to the BJP leaders on Thursday when he met traders without taking minor partners into confidence.
The BJP leaders may not accept on record but they are upset with Sukhbir's trying to break into their vote bank. The SAD's traditional vote bank is the peasant class, and traders are the BJP's domain. "The official notification (of the extended period) will be out next week," said a party office-bearer who had attended Friday's meeting.
After a series of meetings with traders and resident welfare associations in Amritsar, Jalandhar, and Ludhiana in the past fortnight, state BJP leaders, including president Kamal Sharma, local bodies minister Anil Joshi, and legislative group leader and cabinet minister Chunni Lal Bhagat, reassembled on Friday.
Panel to take VAT issue to Sukhbir
The party also formed a committee comprising Bhagat, Joshi and Tikshan Sud (adviser to the chief minister) that will, in a week, take the traders' issue of value-added-tax (VAT) refund along with its recommendations to Sukhbir, who as excise and taxation minister, holds the department concerned. Claiming the new tax imposed on property in certain pockets as unreasonable, the party also decided to review the collector's rate, basis of calculating the duty.
On collector's rate, to approach Majithia
It has feedback from different locations that, at certain places, the collector's rate is unclear. As the revenue department is to deal with the issue, the BJP will approach revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia. Balramji Dass Tandon, Tikshan Sud, chief parliamentary secretary (co-operation) KD Bhandari, and general secretaries Rakesh Rathore and Tarun Chugh were senior BJP leaders at the meeting.
"The VAT refund is irregular and cheques are not cashed on time. There were complaints from all over the state, so we decided to take those up with the department concerned," said a state BJP office-bearer. State party president Kamal Sharma said there had been prompt decision on the things within the party's powers, and for remaining solution, the party would approach the ministers concerned.
"Our party has no problems with the deputy CM's meeting traders. We also have been meeting farmers. It's good for democracy," said Sharma.