The Punjab cabinet on Saturday decided to provide 33% reservation for women in all government jobs, including contractual appointments of the state government as chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh attempted to strike a balance between populism and reforms.
Women’s reservation was part of the Congress election manifesto in Punjab.
Ending VIP culture
The meeting which lasted over three hours, also decided to ban the use of beacons on government vehicles, foreign travel of ministers for two years (except where it is so mandated or provided under a bilateral agreement or arrangement) and hosting banquets at state expense in a bid to end VIP culture in the state, an official spokesperson said.
All these were also part of the election manifesto.
The tone and agenda of the new cabinet was set by the party’s poll manifesto and the man who drafted it, new finance minister Manpreet Badal.
STF to counter drug problem
To eradicate the drug menace, the cabinet decided to set up a special task force (STF) in the CM’s office to prepare and implement a comprehensive programme to counter the problem. ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu, a 1992-batch IPS officer and a veteran of anti-Naxal operations, will head the STF.
Transport sector revamp
The cabinet also decided to open up the transport sector and ensure free-and-fair grant of licenses for buses, mini-buses and other commercial vehicles in a transparent way, “freeing the sector from the SAD’s stranglehold”, the spokesman said.
It also decided to abolish the posts of district transport officers and halqa in-charges that played a key role in establishing the business and political clout of Akali Dal which had made the territorial jurisdiction of police stations co-terminus with that of party’s halqa chiefs.
The state will return to the old system within three months. The department of transport will review and reformulate its existing policy and submit the next policy for consideration in the next meeting.
Group Of Experts To Assess Farm Debts
The cabinet also decided to set up a group of experts to assess the quantum of farm loans and propose ways and means to waive it in a time-bound manner. The “Karza Kurki Maaf” campaign of the party before elections — under which 600-odd ticket hopefuls enlisted families of farmers for debt waiver — was a turning point in the party’s campaign that spooked both the AAP and the Akali Dal. The group would submit its report within 60 days to a cabinet sub-committee.