Punjab approves consumer friendly excise policy

Chandigarh, February 24-
Punjab Cabinet on Monday approved the far more consumer-friendly Excise policy: 2014-15 to fetch revenue collection of Rs.4671 crores, against Rs.3947 crores last year thereby registering a steep increase of Rs 724 crore.
The new Excise Policy was approved in the Cabinet meeting chaired by the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here at Chief Minister’s Office this morning.
Disclosing this here today a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said that this year, the group size (which is a unit for allotment of vend) would be reduced and the number of groups would almost be doubled over the previous year. This would result in competition amongst the various licensees and bring down the retail prices of liquor. In another major consumer friendly move, the Government has fixed the rates of liquor to be sold for functions at marriage palaces. These liquor rates would be displayed at the website of the Department. If any consumer complains that a licensee has sold him liquor at a rate higher than these rates for a function at a marriage palace, a fine of Rs.1.00 lac would be imposed on the licensee. For second offence, the fine would be doubled and in case of third offence, the license of the vend would be cancelled.
In a major policy decision to bring about transparency in receiving the applications for allotment of vends, now the banks would also be authorised to receive applications. This would be in addition to the existing system of receipt of applications in the AETC offices and enable the applicant to go to any of the authorised bank branches to submit application for any group of any district. The department expects to collect Rs.50 crores extra as a result of this decision.
In order to reduce the rates of IMFL, the Department has reduced the rates of extra license fee on IMFL and has tried to bring them close to those prevailing in the neighbouring State of Haryana. The number of vends has been frozen at the same level as last year. The quota of country liquor has been increased from 920 lac proof litre to 950 lac proof litres. The quota of IMFL has been increased from 440 lac proof litre to 450 lac proof litres.
In order to promote agriculture diversification program across the state, the Cabinet also gave ex-post facto approval for the creation of the Post of Agriculture Commissioner in the Department of the Agriculture.
The Cabinet also gave nod for ex post facto approval to the proposal of enhancing the upper age of the Chairman-cum- Managing Director of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (PSTCL), from 62 to 65 years. Likewise, the upper age limits of all the Directors of PSPCL and PSTCL has also been enhanced from 62 to 65 years.
Taking a leap forward for developing the state as an education hub in the region, the Cabinet also gave its nod to the draft bill of the state government for setting up Private Self Financed Rayat Bahara University.
In order to regulate the fees of unaided educational institutions in the state thereby helping in checking the excessive fees being charged from the students, the Cabinet also gave its green signal for Punjab Regulation of Fees of Unaided Educational Institutions Bill, 2014, to be introduced in the coming session of state assembly.
In a big reprieve to the visually handicap persons, the Cabinet also gave approval for reviving the 167 posts of JBT/ ETT teachers and converting them into hobby teachers for clearing the backlog of blind category persons. It would help in filling the backlog of one percent quota under this category.
In order to rehabilitate the shopkeepers, whose well established shops were demolished during the widening of road leading to Sri Harmandir Sahib and Jallainwala Bagh at Amritsar, the Cabinet gave its nod to the proposal for relaxing the rule 8 of the Punjab Town Improvement (Allotment of Land and Plots), Rules 1983 to allot shops to 19 shopkeepers at collector rates.
The Cabinet also gave go ahead for amending the Punjab Municipal Elections Office (Group- A) Service Rules 2006 to facilitate disposal of official work of the Municipal Elections Office. As per the amendment for promotion to the post of Assistant Director (Elections) experience as Superintendent Grade-1 would now be three years instead of one year and for the promotion to the post of Superintendent Grade- 1 experience as Senior Assistant would be seven years instead of 10 years.
In order to give further relief to the people residing in the urban areas besides ensuring smooth collection of property tax in the state, the Cabinet also gave nod to place bills in the ensuing session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to amend the Punjab Municipal Act 1911 and the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act 1976. These amendments stipulate to give 10% rebate on Property Tax deposited up to March 31, 2014 instead of earlier date of December 31, 2013. Similarly, the rate of property tax to be levied on residential properties under rent would be reduced from existing 7.5% to three percent. Likewise, the rate of penalty has also been reduced from 25% to 10% in case of tax deposited after the due date of December 31 but before the end of financial year. Rate of penalty has been reduced from 100% to 20% in case of deposit of tax after the expiry of financial year but an interest at the rate of 18% would be charged on the amount from date of end of financial year up to date of actual payment. At places where collector rate has not been fixed separately for industrial value then market value in such cases would be considered as 75% of the commercial collector rates.
Fulfilling the promises made by the Chief Minister on foundation stone laying ceremony of the prestigious war memorial at Amritsar, the Cabinet approved to abolish property tax on residential property owned by the serving defence personnel and the veterans. Likewise, to enable the Serving and Ex-Servicemen military personnel to get CSD items/goods at cheaper rates, the Cabinet gave a go ahead to reduce the rate of tax on sale and purchase of goods through CSD from 6.05% to 4%. The Cabinet also approved the creation of exclusive court along with the supporting staff at Jalandhar for delivering speedy justice to ex-servicemen.
The Cabinet also gave its green signal to amend sections 2, 10, 10-A, 43, 99, 101, 105, 162 and 168 of Punjab State Panchayat Act 1994 to make suitable provisions for the delimitation of wards and numbering of houses in every Panchayat.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to introduce Punjab Gau Sewa Commission Bill 2014 to ensure the welfare and protection of Cows. The bill also stipulates for the promotion of health care of cows besides inspecting and supervising any institutions and suggesting any measure which might be helpful in strengthening of institution which were economically weak.
The Cabinet approved recruitment of Medical Officer (Specialist) against posts falling vacant due to the retirement and resignations through walk in interview.
The Cabinet also gave nod to grant additional risk allowance to the officers/ officials attached with the VVIP Medical team from existing 25% to 50% on the pattern of Police personnel attached with the VVIPs.
In order to protect the people from harmful effects of the radiations besides awakening the people about the radiation safety by organising training programs and workshops, the Cabinet also approved the setting up of Radiation Safety Agency in the state.
The Cabinet also gave nod to introduce Punjab Right to Service (Amendment) Bill, 2014 empowering Punjab State Right To Service Commission (PSRTSC) to impose a fine upto Rs 10000 on those officials who derelict in duties and do not render the required service in time.
The Cabinet also gave nod to convert the Punjab Value Added Tax (Third amendment) Ordinance, 2013 (Punjab Ordinance No. 12 to enact “Voluntary Disclosure Scheme” where in traders could rectify their mistakes by submitting returns.
In order to make Punjab state a disease free zone by providing quality veterinary services, the Cabinet also gave nod to set up a new veterinary college at Rampura Phul, Bathinda on 25 hectare land. This college would be set up by Guru Angad Dev Veterinary Sciences University on land provided by Forest department to Department of Animal Husbandry, which would be transferred to the University. Likewise, five acres of land from Cattle Mandi, Rampura would be given by the Rural Development and Panchayat Department for setting up residential buildings for staff and hostel.
The Cabinet also gave approval for introducing Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill in the forth coming session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha for amending section 20 of the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887, vide which summons could be served on female adult members also in Revenue cases on behalf of a member of the family.
The Cabinet also gave its green signal to create Sub Tehsil at Zirakpur in district, SAS Nagar for facilitating the people of Zirakpur and the villages of newly created sub-tehsil to get their routine administrative work done at Zirakpur instead of going to Dera Bassi.
In a bid to end the onerous task of seeking approval of Finance Department every time for each financial year to continue the temporary posts, the Cabinet also gave nod for converting 2844 temporary posts of various categories in Divisional Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners and their subordinate offices, into permanent ones. The Cabinet authorised the Finance Minister to convert any such post in future.
The Cabinet also gave approval for conversion of 200 temporary posts to permanent in the State Election Department to ensure smooth functioning of the state election department. The Cabinet also approved the conversion of three temporary posts including two Senior Assistant/ Audit and a clerk, into the permanent posts pertaining to the Director Disaster Management.
The Cabinet also gave nod for relaxing the norms to appoint Mrs. Simerjeet Kaur as Assistant Sub Inspector in the Punjab Police on compassionate grounds. Pertinently husband of Mrs Simerjeet Kaur late Mr. Kulbeer Singh, who was serving as ASI in Tarn Taran, had died while discharging his duties during the farmers’ agitation on March 6, 2013.
In order to facilitate the residents of Jagraon in getting their day-to-day revenue/ general work done in their own city, the Cabinet also gave green signal for the creation of post of Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) along with requisite staff at Jagroan, in district Ludhiana.
The Cabinet also gave ex-post facto approval to the policy of up-gradation of schools to ten plus two level in villages having 5000 or more population as there was no such school within the radius of five kilometers, to provide easy, affordable and quality education to the students.
The Cabinet also gave nod to spend a sum of Rs. 442.76 crore under OUGVL scheme for construction of new jails at Sri Muktsar Sahib, Amritsar and Bathinda.
The Cabinet also approved the Punjab Excise & Taxation (State Service Group-A) Rules, 2014 These rules have been framed after merging the three old rules Punjab Excise & Taxation (State Service Class-I), Rules 1979, Punjab Excise & Taxation (State Service Class-II), Rules 1956 and Punjab Excise & Taxation (State Service Class-III), Rules 1956. These rules have been made for the promotions to the posts of Additional, Joint, Deputy and Assistant Excise & Taxation Commissioners.
Likewise, the Cabinet also approved the Group-A Service rules of Technical Education and Industrial Training by amending the Technical Education and Industrial Training rules 2001.
Under the Punjab Small Traders Rahat Scheme, the Cabinet also approved the lump-sum tax to be charged on the turnover up to Rs. 25 lac, between Rs. 25-50 lac, between Rs. 50-75 lac, between Rs. 75 lac -1 crore as Rs. 5000, Rs. 10000, Rs. 15000 and Rs. 20000 respectively. The traders were given the option to pay this lump-sum tax in four equal quarterly installments and the dealer would be issued a Rahat certificate which he could keep at their business premises as proof of no tax liability. The business premises of the dealer registered under the Rahat scheme would not be inspected by any officer/officials of the department without the prior permission of the Excise & Taxation Commissioner.
The Cabinet also gave approval to the Governor address to be delivered by the Punjab Governor on March 3, 2014 during the seventh session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha under Article 176 (1) of the Constitution of India.
The Cabinet also gave a nod for re-fixation of quota in promotion as per cadre strength of the lecturers, Headmasters and vocational lecturers/ masters. At present 12642 lecturers, 1665 headmasters and 1225 vocational lecturers/masters exit in the Education Department. After thoroughly examining the entire matter, it was decided to re-fix the quota of posts for promotion as 75%, 15% and 10% in case of lecturers, headmasters and vocational lecturers/headmasters respectively. It may be recalled earlier the lecturers, headmasters/headmistress and vocational lecturers were given promotions in the ratio of 55%, 30% and 15% respectively.
In order to pay befitting tributes to the great martyr and pioneer of Praja Mandal Movement Shaheed Sewa Singh Thikriwala, the Cabinet approved to open a separate Senior Secondary School for Girls at village Thikriwala in Barnala district in already existing building within the village. The Cabinet also gave approval for the creation of 16 new posts for the said school.
The Cabinet also approved to grant 5% minimum relaxation in the marks in PCS (Judicial Branch) exam to the persons with disabilities as given in case of SC/BC categories.
The Cabinet also approved to amend the Punjab Advocate Welfare Fund Act, 2002 for enhancing the value of stamps affixed on Vakalatnama to be filed in the courts from Rs. 8 to 15. The amount thus collected would be granted to family of the deceased advocate member as a financial help.
The Cabinet also approved to amend the rule 42-A of the Punjab Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 enabling the owners of auctioned fancy numbers to retain these numbers while selling their vehicles. They could use these numbers on the new vehicles.
The Cabinet has also given the nod to the Punjab State Rural Water supply and Sanitation Policy-2013 to streamline and improve the system of drinking water supply in the state. Under the policy the state government would ensure the provision of good quality potable water supply through piped distribution to all the households at affordable price covering the entire rural areas by supplying at least 70 liters per capita per day (lpcd) 24X7, besides 100% safe sanitation facilities avoiding the contamination of ground water.
The Cabinet also approved the water connections at the same fee since February 1, 2010 and water meters for every household in the rural sector under new water supply schemes having outsourcing of operation maintenance provision for minimum 5-7 years, besides roof top rain water harvesting structures in all the new water supply schemes.
The Cabinet also approved to fill 45 posts of Tehsil Welfare Officers by taking them out from the purview of Punjab Public Service Commission and filling these by conducting a test through Panjab University, Chandigarh.
In another significant decision, the Cabinet also extended the facility of exemption from stamp duty to owners transferring their self acquired or inherited immoveable property to grandchildren or brother/ sister.
The Cabinet also gave nod to empower the Deputy Commissioners to cancel any invalid Conveyance deed/ Registry registered on the basis of forged land record fard or impersonation.
The Cabinet also approved to release Rs. 55.50 crore for the Panjab University, Chandigarh, Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar for infrastructure maintenance, besides faculty support in their 19 constituent colleges to ensure access to higher education for youth in the educationally backward districts. Rs. 1.5 crore to each would be given on this count for 2012-13 and 2013-14.
The Cabinet also gave nod to amend Punjab Warehousing Act 1957 to ensure that the moisture grain provisions were made part of the act to tide over legal problems faced on this count.
The Cabinet also decided to grant compensation of Rs 25000 to the acid attack victim immediately on the registration of FIR and Rs five lakh in case of death of the victim besides 100% reimbursement of the expenses incurred on the treatment of such victims including plastic surgery.
The Cabinet also gave nod to introduce a bill in the ensuing Vidhan Sabha session for amending the Punjab Human Smuggling Prohibition Act 2012 and rules made there under. The Act would be renamed as ‘Punjab Travel Professional Regulation Act’. The Act has been amended to the effect that in case of suspension of licenses the applications which were under the process would be allowed to be processed. The provision regarding minimum punishment of three years has been done away with and was left to the discretion of the court. The power of search and seizure of the premises of the travel agent would be executed on the written directions of the District Magistrate. The facility of depositing the license fee in installments has also been included. The minimum area of the office premises has also been reduced from 300 to 100 square feet.
The Cabinet has also approved that the salary of the contractual employees working under various Health scheme started by the Government of India (GoI) would be brought at par with the regular employees, provided the GoI contributes its share. The state government would then contribute its share so that the contractual employees must get decent pay package.