Just before the completion of a year in power, Punjab Cabinet on Friday gave its approval to a series of people-friendly measures, including reduction in sand and gravel prices, electric-vehicle policy, and the much-awaited industrial policy. The Cabinet, at the same time, also imposed a cess resulting in an increase in petrol and diesel prices by 90 paise per litre.
In a major citizen-centric decision, the Cabinet gave nod to lower pit head price of sand and gravel to Rs 5.50 per cubic feet, from Rs nine per cubic feet, “as this will translate into lower end cost for the citizens”.
“The Government would not allow tippers to go to the pithead. The sand will be available for Rs 5.50 per cubic feet at the pithead and buyers would have to take a trolley to the pithead and buy sand,” said Cabinet Minister Aman Arora, addressing the media after the meeting.
A spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said that in August 2022, the State Government had fixed the pit head selling price of sand and gravel at the rate of Rs nine per cubic feet, including loading charges. In recent times, there was a significant gap in demand and supply of sand and gravel which was also hugely contributing to the rise in prices.
The Cabinet also approved the Department’s proposal to increase sum of royalty and penalty charged from transporters of sand and gravel who are unable to produce any relevant documents at the time of checking. At present, these transporters were being charged at the rate of Rs 3.50 per cubic feet.
Now, the Cabinet has approved that this rate shall not be less than the rate fixed for sale of sand and gravel at the pit head. Since the pit head rates of sand and gravel have revised to Rs 5.50 per cubic feet, therefore the amount to be charged from such transporters shall now be more than Rs 5.50 per cubic feet.
Punjab Electric Vehicle Policy
To check the environmental pollution in the state due to omission from vehicles, the Cabinet accorded its approval to the Punjab Electric Vehicle Policy (PEVP)-2022.
The policy aimed at reducing vehicular emission, creating infrastructure, manufacturing, research and development, job creation, ensuring sustainability, besides establishing Punjab as a favoured destination for manufacturing of electric vehicles, components, and batteries, said the spokesperson.
Training of 66 Principals at Singapore
The Cabinet also gave consent for implementation of the State scheme for teachers’ foreign training, under which, School Education Department will send a batch of 36 Principals to Principals Academy, Singapore; and 30 Principals to the National Institute of Education (NIE) —an autonomous institute of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, in 2022-23.
117 Govt Schools as ‘Schools of Eminence’
Cabinet has given a green signal to implement the state scheme for upgrading Government schools into ‘Schools of Eminence’ (SoE) — which will serve as centers of excellence, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. In the initial phase, 117 government schools will be upgraded into SoE.
Rs 74.75 cr for Shahpur Kandi Dam Project
To expedite remaining construction work of Shahpur Kandi Dam Project, Cabinet has endorsed the proposal to pay a total Rs 74.75 crore to the concerned executing agency. As per the decision, a payment of Rs 74.75 crore will be paid to the agency, following which it will withdraw all three cases filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Special Remission for Life Convicts
To commemorate 75th Independence Day, being celebrated as ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the Cabinet gave approval for sending the case of special remission to convicts confined in Jails of Punjab, in the second phase. Similarly, green signal was also given for sending the cases for seeking premature release of life convicts confined in the state’s jails. After the nod of Cabinet under Article 163 of the Constitution of India, these special remission or premature release cases will be submitted to the Punjab Governor under Article 161 of the Indian Constitution.
CM Yogshala Program
To create a mass movement for yoga in Punjab and scale up the state’s existing yoga ecosystem, Cabinet approved to initiate ‘CM Di Yogshala’ program under the aegis of Guru Ravidas Ayurveda University Punjab, Hoshiarpur. The program will be implemented in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Phagwara, Patiala, and Ludhiana in the initial phase, under which total 400 classes will be conducted in these cities everyday which may be further increased based on demand. Project will have two consultants and 10 supervisors, besides 80 trainers will also be hired in each of these five cities.
· Nod to appoint “an eligible officer” as Punjab State Election Commissioner to ensure conduct of Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Elections or By-Elections in fair, clean, and peaceful manner in the state
· Approval to ‘The Forensic Science Laboratory, Punjab Group-C Rules-2023’ to govern recruitment or appointment and conditions of service of the staff of Forensic Science Laboratory, Punjab
· Post-facto approval to amendment in Punjab Public Service Commission (Limitation of Functions) Regulations, 1955, to speed up recruitment process
Petrol, diesel get dearer by 90 paise/litre
With the Cabinet giving its nod to increase VAT rates levied on the sale of petrol and diesel in the state, the fuel prices has increased by 90 paise per litre. This is the first financial burden given by the Aam Aadmi Party-led State Government, after coming to power on March last year. With the decision to levy cess, the cash-starved State Government will be able to mop up some additional revenue.
Spokesperson said that the Cabinet has given its approval for a “marginal increase” in the VAT rates levied on the sale of petrol and diesel in the state. “The increase in the VAT rate will lead to a marginal increase in the price of petrol and diesel by approximately 90 paise per litre. This will bring more parity in prices of petrol and diesel in comparison with neighboring states,” added the spokesperson.
Notably, the pervious Congress led State Government, during the tenure of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi in 2021, had revoked VAT (value added tax) on petrol and diesel, making it cheaper by Rs 10 and Rs five per litre, respectively.
Investors’ Summit on Feb 23-24, Cabinet Approves New Industrial Policy
About 20 days ahead of the Punjab Investors’ Summit on February 23-24, the Punjab Cabinet on Friday approved the New Industrial and Business Development Policy-2022 aimed at creating an enabling environment for the industries and business for balanced economic growth, job creation, and overall development.
Spokesperson for the Chief Minister's Office said that the new policy would be applicable for five years from October 17, 2022; and will spur industrial development and generate more employment opportunities.
The policy is structured with key strategic focus on infrastructure, power, MSMEs, large enterprises, innovation, startup and entrepreneurship, skill development, ease-of-doing business, fiscal and non-fiscal incentive, export promotion logistics, stakeholder engagement and grievance redressal.
As per the policy, the state will develop 15 industrial parks covering general and sector specific requirements of the industrial sector and 20 rural clusters.
The State will also allow the setting up of dedicated Country-Specific Integrated Industrial Township to attract investment by allowing the infrastructure and other norms of the country.
The policy also envisages that Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) will be strengthened and an online system for all estate management services in a time-bound be developed.
The issuance of notification by the Department of Power for the incentive of electricity duty exemption will be made online and time-bound through Invest Punjab Business First Portal (IPBFP).
To give a boost to the MSME sector, the state under the new policy will set up a MSME Punjab, as a dedicated wing of the Department of Industries and Commerce with a focus on setting up a common facility and technology centre.
For MSMEs, the state will also implement the World Bank assisted scheme namely Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance (RAMP). Likewise, the state will also strengthen start-up Punjab to promote innovation and startups in the state through Punjab Innovation Mission with a special focus on women, scheduled castes and other entrepreneurship.
Under the policy, gender, differently-abled entrepreneurship, Rural Impact Startup, Women-led startup, and startups shall be given relaxation in public procurement with respect to experience and turn over.
Punjab Skill Development Mission will work out specific skill development centres for various activities and will work with large employers in various industry sectors to create skill training facilities in partnership with such employers.
As per the new policy, the Invest Punjab Business First Portal shall be integrated with National Single Window Portal and services of NHAI, PWD, RDA, Irrigation Department and Forest will also be included in it.
The policy also stipulates fiscal incentives for new units and also to existing units for expansion with or without modernization or diversification. Policy envisages that variable power tariff shall be freezed for five years at the rate of Rs 5.50 per KVAH and shall be applicable for manufacturing units, IT, ITeS unit in the approved Industrial Park, Amusement park or Adventure Parks developed on minimum area of 50 acres.
As per the policy, the manufacturing of Auto/Auto components including Electric Vehicle, Sports Goods including fitness equipment, Hand tools including Power Tools and Machine Tools, Agricultural Machinery and Equipment, Paper Based Packaging Units, circular Economy activity including shredding units, based management units and one district one product have been included in the category of thrust sector for the purpose of higher fiscal incentives. The fiscal incentives include 100 percent exemption from stamp duty, 100 percent exemption from CLU/EDC to the units in thrust sector and anchor units and 100 percent exemption from electricity duty from seven to 15 years.