Amidst reports on imposition of fresh taxes to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore in the state, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday categorically said that no decision had been taken by his government to levy any new taxes so far.
He however maintained that people should contribute to the overall development of the state by paying their due taxes, hinting at proposed moves of the SAD-BJP regime to burden the public to fill its coffers.
Badal was on a visit here to preside over a sangat darshan programme.
Though the BJP had reportedly demanding rationalisation of Rs 5,000-crore annual subsidy extended on account of free power to the agriculture sector, Badal chose to downplay the issue, maintaining that there were no differences amongst the alliance partners on the issue of fresh taxes.
The BJP leadership, keeping in mind its urban vote bank, was hesitantly trying to raise concerns over taxes in the media but without being quoted in this context. No saffron party leader had so far openly opposed the new taxes probably due to "coalition dharma".
Meanwhile, BJP leader and local bodies minister Chunni Lal Bhagat had also supported, though "cautiously", the move on fresh taxes. "The union government has been collecting huge taxes from the state, but the latter can fetch huge grants from the Centre only after introducing user charges or tax reforms as a pre-condition," Bhagat had said.
"We lost grants of thousands of crores of rupees for not rationalising tax structure in civic bodies in the past. Such an approach is required to pay salaries to employees and to carry on development projects in the cities," Bhagat had told Hindustan Times three days back.
CM demands special central package
Meanwhile, Badal on Saturday urged the Centre to announce a special economic package to all agricultural states of the country in general and Punjab in particular for tackling drought-like situation due to scanty rains this monsoon.
Badal said that due to rain deficit, an emergency-like situation had been created in states producing food grains owing to shortage of power supply during the ongoing paddy-sowing season. Punjab had already asked the Centre to allocate 1,000 MW additional power to the state from the central pool, he said.
Reiterating his demand on disbursal of the central grants in proportion to the share of taxes collected from the states, Badal said that it was unfortunate that the union government had been constantly discriminating against states in the distribution of central funds.
Replying to a query regarding the recent hike of the power rates in the state, the CM reiterated that the prices have been hiked by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission and state government hardly had any role to play in it. However, he said, the power rates were far less than in many other states of the country.
Holding the union government entirely responsible for the devastation of many areas in the state due the floods in Ghaggar, Badal said that his government had already taken up construction of a dam on the river but the Centre was not granting sanction to complete the work due to which it was lingering on, much to the dismay of area people.