Taxing times ahead for Punjab
The issue of imposition of fresh taxes amounting to Rs 3,000 crore is likely to be settled amicably during the forthcoming meeting between local bodies minister Chunni Lal Bhagat and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal in Chandigarh by Friday.chandigarh Updated: Jul 24, 2012 13:39 IST
The issue of imposition of fresh taxes amounting to Rs 3,000 crore is likely to be settled amicably during the forthcoming meeting between local bodies minister Chunni Lal Bhagat and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal in Chandigarh by Friday.
"I am scheduled to meet Sukhbir soon to discuss the tax proposals, which will be thoroughly deliberated upon before being notified by the state government by this week," Bhagat, who was accompanied by Jalandhar mayor Rakesh Rathour, told Hindustan Times here on Monday.
Bhagat said the BJP had already formulated its strategy on tax reforms during its recent core committee meeting. "The party is committed to safeguarding the interests of the poor and urban people. The proposed taxes, including property tax, will be finalised keeping in view such sections of society," he said, adding that the tax imposed on sugar and mobile phones would also be looked into.
There seems to be unanimity among the alliance partners on imposing fresh taxes while certain items could be excluded from the taxation list at the insistence of the BJP, sources said, adding that the BJP was of the view that tax reforms in civic bodies throughout the state were "warranted" to get grants from the central government for urban development projects.
Bhagat said the Centre had been collecting huge taxes from the state, but the latter could fetch huge grants from the Centre only after introducing user charges or tax reforms as a pre-condition for availing such financial assistance.
"We lost grants worth thousands of crores of rupees for not rationalising the tax structure in civic bodies in the past. Such an approach is required to pay salaries to the employees and to carry out development projects in the cities," Bhagat said, adding that the alliance partners were seized of the matter and the final announcement would be made this week.
On appointing new chairpersons of the improvement trusts under the BJP quota, the minister said Punjab BJP affairs in-charge Shanta Kumar had asked the state unit to finalise the names within 10 days. "The BJP core committee will hold its meeting soon. The performance of the candidates during the previous tenure will be taken into account before finalising the names," he said.
He said a grant of Rs 750 crore had been sanctioned for the civic bodies in the state to construct new roads on the stretches, wherein sewerage pipes were earlier laid under the National River Conservation Plan and the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns schemes. "We have already released Rs 350 crore while Rs 400 crore will be disbursed shortly," he added.
Congress to resort to agitation
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee vice-president Rana KP Singh on Monday said the Congress would resort to agitation against the state government's decision to burden the common man with heavy taxes and the increase in power tariff.
While talking to reporters here on Monday, Rana said the government had adopted a wrong approach to generate resources by increasing power tariff and imposing heavy taxes on items of daily use. He said that instead of burdening the common man, the government should have imposed taxes on luxury items.