The Punjab government today decided to levy a few fresh taxes, including property tax, to mop up additional resources to the tune of Rs 900 crore per year. “In a bid to step up the pace of development and streamline delivery of services to the people at the cutting edge, the Punjab Council of Ministers under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal took a series of decisions to mop up additional resources and streamline governance,” an official spokesman said here. “All these tax proposals would yield about Rs 900 crore per year,” he said.
Besides, the cabinet decided to offer an option of re-employment for the period of one year to all its retiring employees at the age of 58 years. “This has been done to cope up the shortage of 35,000 employees whose recruitment would take about a year’s time,” the spokesman said. To ensure that the decision does not adversely affect the employment prospects of the youth, the maximum age limit for recruitment to government services would be enhanced from 37 to 38 years. On the resource management side, the cabinet decided to roll back its earlier decision to levy 5 per cent VAT on sugar. The demand was made by the SAD’s ally BJP. “The government would thus take a liability of Rs 100 crore to ensure that the common man gets sugar at cheaper rates,” the spokesman said. The cabinet also approved the proposals of the Excise & Taxation department which would generate an additional revenue of Rs 400 and loss of Rs 100 crore on account of the withdrawal of VAT on sugar giving Rs 300 crore net every year.
The rates of VAT would be increased by 0.5 per cent from the existing rates. However, the among declared goods, mainly food items have been exempted from this hike. Other proposals include the enhancement of luxury tax on the hotels and marriage palaces from the existing 4 to 8 per cent, rationalisation of VAT on shoes, imposition of processing fee of Rs 800 on VAT dealers and increase in lump sum tax payable by brick kiln owners. The cabinet also gave nod to the proposal of the local government department to levy property tax on the unit area basis. The tax would be payable on self assessment basis, based on the actual market value of the property to be determined by the municipal corporations/committees in consultation with the concerned deputy commissioners, the spokesman said. “This step will generate an additional revenue Rs 180 crore annually,” he said. The cabinet also approved to constitute one member tribunal for the quick disposal of land acquisition cases by amending Section 60 and other related sections of Punjab Town Improvement Act, 1922. The member shall be called the president of the tribunal, who would be a person qualified for appointment as a judge of the High Court of Punjab or be a retired or serving officer not below the rank of the Financial Commissioner Punjab. The term of the president of the tribunal would be for two years and shall be eligible for the reappointment at the end of the term, the spokesman said. The cabinet also approved to amend Punjab Motor Vehicle Taxation Act 1924 for the provision of penalty and punishments against the defaulters for not paying vehicle tax at the state entry points. Buses plying on contract carriage permit or tourist permit of other states entering into Punjab without payment of Motor Vehicles Tax on entry point would be liable to imposition of penalty for the first offence of Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh for the subsequent offence and subsequently the erring owner or driver of such vehicle would be punished with imprisonment up to two years. The cabinet also approved to rationalise the motor vehicle tax on different types of vehicles which is likely to generate an additional revenue of Rs 108 crore annually, the spokesman said.
The motor vehicle tax would be levied at the uniform rate of 6 per cent on all types of vehicles besides lump sum motor vehicle tax would also be levied on the transfer of all kinds of vehicles ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 7,500. Similarly, the motor vehicle tax has been enhanced on goods carriage, contract carriage, private service vehicles, tourist buses and vehicles plying on the All India Tourist Permit. The cabinet also approved the proposal of revenue department for levying the social infrastructure cess for health and education at the rate of one per cent on the time of registration of land, the spokesman said. The upper limit for registration fee had been increased from Rs 30,000 to Rs two lakh. The increase in mutation fee and facilitation charges at the Fard Kendras and suvidha centers had also been approved by the cabinet. “All these proposals would fetch additional revenue of Rs 480 crore every year,” the spokesman said. The cabinet approved the Mining Policy-2012 for the auction of sand and stone mines in the state along with the policy guidelines for the registration & working of stone crushers with a clause that environmental clearance fee would be borne by the contractor. Number of mines have also been increased to bring down the prices of sand and gravel under the new policy. The cabinet also gave nod for recruitment of 5,078 teachers of the Master Cadre and 100 of Art & Craft on consolidated pay of Rs 6,000 and Rs 5,800 per month, respectively, for three years on the contract basis. Similarly, the cabinet also approved to increase the contractual pay of 12,970 teachers. “This decision will entail a financial liability of Rs 70 crore on the Punjab government,” the spokesman said. The cabinet also approved to revive 60 vacancies of the PCS (Executive Branch) cadre, of which 30 would be filled through direct recruitment and 30 by promotion.
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