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Punjab CM Capt Amarinder, his ministers to pay their income tax; no call yet on MLAs

Cabinet meeting: No longer govt’s burden; CM says decision on legislators paying their own tax will be taken after their feedback.

punjab Updated: Feb 16, 2018 09:30 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab CM,Capt Amarinder,income tax
Finance minister Manpreet Badal, health minister Brahm Mohindra, CM Capt Amarinder Singh and local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu during a cabinet meeting in Chandigarh on Thursday.(HT Photo)

Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his ministers on Thursday announced to voluntarily pay their income tax, which is currently paid from the state exchequer.

First mooted by the state finance department in October last year, the move was endorsed by Amarinder during a meeting of a cabinet sub-committee on fiscal management on February 5.

With regard to paying the MLAs’ income tax, the CM said the final decision on this will be taken after getting their feedback. The state government pays income tax of its 117 legislators to the tune of Rs 11.08 crore. Of this, Rs 10.72 crore is paid as income tax of MLAs who are not ministers.

There are nine ministers, including the CM, in the state cabinet which can have strength up to 18. Of the 117 legislators, 95 (81%) are crorepatis, according to a report from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an independent agency.

Yet in percentage terms, the present House has 7% fewer crorepatis than the previous assembly.

  • On the allegations that finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal’s brother-in-law Jaijeet Singh Johal, along with other MLAs, was collecting ‘goonda tax’ from builders at the Bathinda refinery, CM Amarinder Singh issued directions to the director general of police (DGP) to crack down on the culprits.
  • Local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said in a media briefing. “Manpreet (finance minister) himself raised the issue in the cabinet and asked the CM to deal with it.”
  • The CM asked DGP to identify the culprits and take strict action against them irrespective of who they are.
  • Manpreet said he was being vilified.

Depts renamed

In the cabinet meeting, the department of planning was renamed as the department of economic policy and planning while the Punjab State Planning Board will be known as the Economic Policy and Planning Board. This will help the two units to primarily focus more cogently on formulating policies for the development and on monitoring and reviewing the policy implementation, it was claimed.

Transport, labour policies for rabi

As per the new rules for the forthcoming wheat crop, the work of labour and cartage (up to 8km) and transportation of wheat, beyond 8km, will be allocated though a competitive and transparent online tender system.

Ad, tourism policies

The cabinet also approved the Punjab Municipal Outdoor Advertisement Policy-2018 stipulating provisions relating to permissible content on outdoor advertisements and identification of suitable places where advertisement rights can be awarded. Local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said currently there is no such policy and the state was losing revenue.

The minister said a new policy will double tourist visits from 25 million to 50 million in the next five years by creating infrastructure. He said there was a lot of scope for medical tourism in the state as people living in foreign countries look at Punjab as a destination for cheap and quality treatment.

A dept of mining

The departments of mining and geology will be separated from the department of industries and commerce, seen as a major contributor to the state’s revenue.

The move entails no additional monetary burden for the state, said the government spokesman, since the new department, which will get 598 employees from the water resources department. The cabinet noted that most of the mining activities are on the riverbeds and the department of water resources, with its professional manpower and technical know-how, could better handle this.

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 09:30 IST