Sidhu raises cable ‘scam’ in Punjab cabinet, CM Amarinder puts ball in AG’s court

CM has said if Fastway has evaded taxes and permissions, it should face penalty and we could take AG’s opinion on it, says Manpreet

punjab Updated: Jul 06, 2017 09:25 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab assembly budget session,Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu,chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh
Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu (HT File Photo)

After raising the pitch at the Punjab assembly budget session, Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu took up alleged tax evasion by Fastway Transmissions in the meeting of the Punjab cabinet on Wednesday.

Citing media reports that said he and chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh are “not on the same page” on the issue, he claimed that the company enjoyed “monopoly over cable business of Punjab and evaded taxes with impunity under political patronage of the previous Parkash Singh Badal government”.

Amarinder, who has been avoiding a direct reply to Sidhu’s assertions, is learnt to have said if there is evidence against Fastway on tax evasion, the matter could be discussed with Punjab advocate general Atul Nanda and the multi-system operator (MSO) could be asked to pay penalty.

“ I had raised the issue in the cabinet and will hold a press conference on Thursday to give proof against Fastway,” Sidhu said after the meeting.

Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal, who drafted the party’s poll manifesto that promised end to “monopoly” over cable network in Punjab, said there was unanimity in the cabinet on the fact that there should be a level-playing field for all cable operators.

“The CM said if a particular company has evaded taxes and not taken requisite permissions from government, it should face penalty. He has adviced us to discuss the matter with the AG. There are two issues, one is of enforcement of law and the other of ensuring fair play. We are committed to honouring our poll promise,” Manpreet said after the meeting.

Even during the discussion on state’s new transport policy, the ministers expressed resentment over “free run” being allowed to Badal buses. “The transport authorities act against the mafia for few days and become lax after two days. It shows the government is not serious about ending the monopoly of a few,” a cabinet minister said, requesting anonymity.

First Published: Jul 06, 2017 08:54 IST