With barely five months to go for the high-stakes assembly polls, the Punjab government approved a slew of populist measures for almost all sections on Saturday.
A cabinet meeting held here under the chairmanship of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal decided to include the Saini and swarnkar/sunar communities on the list of backward classes in the state. The move would help the communities to avail various benefits of government welfare schemes.
Meeting the long-standing demand of Sikhs, the cabinet approved the draft Anand Marriage (Act and Amendment) Rules which state that marriages registered under the Anand Marriages Act-1909 and Anand Marriages (Amendment) Act2012, need not be registered under the Punjab Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act 2012. The Anand Marriages (Amendment) Act- 2012 allows Sikhs to register their marriages under the Anand Marriage Act instead of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. Another decision aimed at providing land to weaker sections and homeless, the cabinet decided that they would be allotted five-marla plots from village common land (mushtarka malka). Till now, these plots could only be allotted from the shamlat land.
The cabinet also decided to abolish VAT on wooden goods with inlay work (Pachikari) craft in the state to ensure a level-playing field to the local handicrafts industry and compete with Uttar Pradesh which had already exempted wooden handicrafts from VAT. The cabinet also allowed an increase in the number of members of the Punjab state commission from existing three to 10. The senior vice-chairman and vice-chairman of the commission would also be appointed from the members of the commission.
This move would mean more parking slots for hand-picked bureaucrats and other close aides of the political leaders.
The government had recently increased the number of members of Right to Service Commission from existing four to 10.
The cabinet ratified the conversion of the Punjab RTS (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016, into an Act in the ongoing session of the state assembly to facilitate the move.
In order to give relief to the existing industry, the cabinet approved extending the period for shifting industrial units from non-designated zones of the master plan from 10 years to 15 years.
This gives the industry an additional five years to shift their industries.