Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 2
Days ahead of the Progressive Punjab Investors’ Summit- 2019, the Cabinet today decided to amend the rules to create land bank for industrial projects.
During the meeting, the amendment of rules to promote ease of business for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) was also okayed. To create the land bank to promote industrial projects in rural areas, the Cabinet decided to amend the Punjab Village Common Land (Regulation) Rules, 1964. The panchayats will get their dues in lieu of transferring the land for development. The earlier policy of leasing out the common village land for a period of 33 years did not get a good response as investors could not hypothecate the land for getting institutional finance.
An ordinance will be brought to insert Rule 12-B in the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Rules, 1964, to provide special provision for transfer of shamlat land for development of industrial infrastructure projects, to be implemented by the Industry Department and Punjab Small Industries & Export Corporation. The objective was to facilitate gram panchayats to promote development of villages by unlocking the value of shamlat land.
Under the project, the state government has proposed to develop a Global Manufacturing and Knowledge Park at Rajpura in Patiala district, to be considered as an integrated manufacturing cluster under the Amritsar Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC) Project, covering 1,000 acres of panchayat land.
The executive agency (PSIEC) will purchase 1,000-acre shamlat land at a cost of around Rs 357 crore from these panchayats.
It has been pointed out that the Union Finance Ministry has asked the state to make available the land for the development of the AKIC project at the earliest. The proposed economic corridor between the cities of Amritsar and Kolkata was envisaged to further give impetus to industrial activities in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
Besides, the Cabinet approved various amendments to the Factories Act, 1948, Industrial Disputes Act 1947, and Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970. It also okayed an ordinance to bring in the Punjab Right to Business Act, 2019, and Punjab Right to Business Rules, 2019, aimed at promoting ease of doing business for the newly incorporated MSMEs.
The ordinance will increase the threshold limit of number of workers from ‘10’ and ‘20’ to ‘20’ and ‘40’, in factories with manufacturing processes being carried out with or without the aid of power, respectively.
Amid reservation expressed by Labour Minister Balbir Sidhu, the Cabinet decided to increase the minimum number of workers for applying the provisions relating to layoffs, retrenchment and closure from 100 to 300, while ensuring a minimum notice period of three months.
Amendment to the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970, has also been approved to enhance its ambit from present threshold limit of 20 to 50 workers.
The Cabinet decided to increase the state’s share in the New Pension Scheme, in line with the Centre’s decision with effect from April 1, 2019. Besides, it agreed to give the benefit of death-cum-retirement gratuity to all govt employees recruited on or after January 1, 2004, and covered under the New Pension Scheme.
Ex-post facto approval to the Finance Department’s proposal to allow ex gratia to the dependents of employees recruited on or after January 1, 2004, who die} in harness, on the lines of benefits extended under the old pension scheme.
Amendment to the Punjab GST (Amendment) Act, 2017 is all set to be suitably amended, in line with the Central GST Act, to further promote ease of business.
Poor tax collection dominates discussion
In the Cabinet meeting, poor collection of state taxes was discussed in detail. As some ministers blamed the excise policy for poor recovery, it was pointed out that excise revenue was short by Rs 1,200 crore due to inter-state smuggling.
Another meeting tomorrow
A day ahead of the investors’ summit, the Punjab Cabinet will meet again on December 4. The draft of the water authority to regulate the use of groundwater is expected to be taken up in the meeting, besides other business.