Property tax became a reality for Punjab on Tuesday as the Vidhan Sabha gave its nod to the Punjab Municipal (Second Amendment) Bill 2012. The Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Amendment Bill was also passed, which now allows panchayats to transfer more than 50% of common village land under a sale, gift or exchange agreement.
The crucial legislations were two of the five bills were passed within 35 minutes without discussion - and would now go for the governor's formal nod - as the opposition was busy raising slogans against the SAD-BJP alliance for not allowing a debate on the law and order situation.
Local bodies minister Chunni Lal Bhagat introduced the property tax bill, which stipulates 5% annual property tax on the total unit value of a residential building. This comes into effect immediately.
For commercial units, the levy takes effect from April 1 next year -- 20% of the unit value in case of malls and hotels with five-star and above rating. For other hotels, the property tax would be 15% per year.
A residential unit has been described as any that is not being used for for the purposes of business, profession or trade; while a commercial building is simply one that is not a residential building.
However, the tax won't apply to buildings and land used exclusively for religious purposes, cremation or burial grounds, gaushalas, stray animal care centres, historical and heritage buildings, scientific and cultural organisations, charitable and philanthropic organisations.
For determining the unit value of the building for each zone in a municipal area, a valuation committee would consider the prevalent price of land, cost of construction and rental values.
As for the legislation that allows sale of more than 50% panchayat land if needed, it was introduced by rural development minister Surjit Singh Rakhra. The argument behind it was that panchayats faced difficulties when more than 50% of their 'culturable' area was required to be transferred in the interest of public for a project to be executed by a department, board or corporation of the state government.
Other bills which the House passed on Tuesday included the Punjab Town Improvement (Amendment) Bill 2012, the Punjab (Institutions and Other Buildings) Tax (Amendment) Bill 2012, and the Punjab Municipal Corporation (Second Amendment) Bill 2012.