Punjab mulls changes in excise policy, labour laws
The Punjab government is mulling changes in its excise policy and labour laws in the light of the impact of COVID-19, amid efforts to revive the state's economy and industry that have taken a massive hit.
The issues came up for discussion before the Council of Ministers which met here on Friday under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who reiterated that the decision on contribution to the CM Covid Relief Fund should be voluntary for government employees, just as it had been for other categories.
On the excise policy front, the Cabinet sought the precise details of the coronavirus and lockdown implications for the policy and its execution.
The Excise Department has been asked to review the policy in this context and bring a detailed proposal before the Council of Ministers, which will meet again tomorrow to further discuss the issue.
Terming the prevailing situation as extraordinary, the Cabinet felt that all possible options should be explored to put the excise industry back on its feet, especially given its importance to the state's revenue model.
Underlining the need for industry to retain labour and prevent the migrant workers from leaving Punjab, the Chief Minister directed the Industry Minister to take all possible welfare measures to ensure that they are well taken care of.
The Cabinet welcomed the opening of another 9500 industrial units in the wake of the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Captain Amarinder said it was a good sign that with the industry opening, 35 per cent of those who had registered to return home had decided to stay back in Punjab for now.
He also directed the department to aggressively pursue the development of the four industrial parks already announced by the state government in the budget for this fiscal.
There is significant potential for attracting industry, particularly in the field of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, with many countries shifting their operations out of China, the Cabinet noted.
The Council of Ministers also agreed on staggering the paddy cultivation operations in view of the shortage of migrant labourers.
Amid concerns over women with small children (under 5 years of age) deployed on COVID frontline duties, the Punjab Chief Minister asked the Chief Secretary to discuss the matter with various departments and formulate necessary guidelines to ensure the protection of such women.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet has also approved the transfer policy for non-teaching staff of the School Education Department, with the same set to be effective from academic session 2020-21 i.e. from April 1, 2020.
Under the policy, schools/offices have been categorised in five zones, and transfers would be carried out only once a year, in an objective manner through a merit-based software.
The criteria for deciding the merit would be: 95 points for length of service, 55 marks for special category employees and 90 marks for performance etc.
A person working at a station will not be transferred unless he or she completes 5 years of service at a station. In case such an employee has completed 5 years, he or she will be compulsorily transferred as per his/her choice and in case he or she does not give any choice, he / she can be transferred by the department on its own.