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Punjab Cabinet okays ‘Punjab Protection And Regularization of Contractual Employees Bill-2021’

Move to regularize services of nearly 36000 employees working on contract, adhoc, work charged, daily wages and temporary basis

Bill to be placed in current session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha for enactment

In a major decision to regularize the services of the employees working on contract, adhoc, work charged, daily wages and temporary basis, the Punjab Cabinet on Tuesday approved the ‘The Punjab Protection and Regularization of Contractual Employees Bill-2021’ to be introduced in the forthcoming session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha for enactment.

This decision was taken during a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi here at Punjab Bhawan this afternoon.

According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office, with this decision the services of nearly 36,000 aforesaid employees with more than 10 years service would be regularized. Likewise, the Cabinet also gave approval for the extra creation of deemed posts.

The provisions of reservation policy would be followed during the regularization process of these employees. However, this decision of regularization would not be a binding on the boards and corporations.

REPEALS PUNJAB CONTRACT FARMING ACT, 2013

Keeping in view the dilemma/fear in the minds of the producers/farmers of the state due to the strict provisions incorporated in the Punjab Contract Farming Act, 2013 like imprisonment, monetary penalties and other rigorous punishments, the Punjab Cabinet decided to repeal the aforesaid Act in the larger interest of Punjab Farmers.

NOD TO AMEND ‘THE PUNJAB AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE MARKETS, ACT 1961’

In a bid to ensure an effective ecosystem and restore the agricultural safeguards besides protecting the interests of farmers, farm labourers and those engaged in ancillary and incidental activities, the Cabinet also gave approval to amend Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets, Act 1961 to revoke the anti-farmer provisions.

Notably, the time tested Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act 1961 (1961 Act) is a legislative measure enacted by Punjab Government to facilitate the development of markets/mandis infrastructure, to provide better facilities and amenities to farmers to sell their agricultural produce seamlessly besides to regulate the marketing of agricultural produce for the elimination of malpractices prevalent in the trade.

It may be recalled that over the years, certain amendments to the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets, Act 1961 have been undertaken that has introduced several vulnerabilities and distortions to the grave detriment and prejudice of agriculture and communities associated therewith. These amendments have left the rural communities especially the farmers and those engaged in agriculture are vulnerable, thereby jeopardizing the sustainable agricultural development and security of livelihood of the persons engaged in agriculture in the state.

APPROVES AMENDMENT IN PUNJAB FRUIT NURSERIES ACT, 1961

The Cabinet also approved to introduce the ‘Punjab Horticulture Nursery Bill-2021’ in Vidhan Sabha Session by amending ‘Punjab Fruit Nurseries Act-1961’.

The amended Act is necessitated in view of drastic changes in the new technologies like IT, GPS Tagging, Traceability etc. and these developments are essentially to be made part of this Act. The earlier Act of 1961 covered only the fruit plants, with the new amendments the vegetables’ planting material would also be brought under the regulatory ambit with the proposed changes.

Notably, Horticulture crops are emerging as an attractive alternative under Crop Diversification Plan of the State and at present approximately 4 lakh hectare areal is under fruits & vegetables in the State and the demand of quality planting material is increasing.

REPEALS PUNJAB (INSTITUTIONS & OTHER BUILDINGS) TAX ACT, 2011

The Cabinet also approved ‘The Punjab (Institutional and Other Building) Tax Repeal Bill, 2021’ to be introduced in the current session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha to waive off un-paid dues in all cases. It may be recalled that Punjab (Institutional and Other Building) Tax Act was implemented on the Industrial and other Institutional Buildings, which come outside the Municipal limit. This decision would give a relief of Rs. 250 crore to the beneficiaries.

APPROVES MODALITIES FOR AYUSHMAN BHARAT – MUKH MANTRI SEHAT BIMA YOJANA

The Cabinet also accorded approval to the universalization of Ayushman Bharat – Mukh Mantri Sehat Bima Yojana, under which the entire population of Punjab would be provided an insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year, except for State and Central Govt. employees and pensioners. Nearly 61 lakh families in the state would be benefitted from this decision. The registration of the other left-out families shall be carried out on Aadhaar-based authentication, and the enrollment forms shall be available at empanelled hospitals, Common Service Centers (CSCS) and Suvidha Kendras, where the facility of e-card issuance is available through BIS portal. The beneficiary would be required to carry Aadhaar Card and proof of residence, such as Electricity bill, Water bill, Passport, or any Govt. issued document/ID/certificate containing the residence address to get himself/herself registered, e-card issued and avail cashless treatment under the scheme.

OKAYS OTS OF NON-COMPOUNDABLE VIOLATIONS IN THE BUILDINGS CONSTRUCTED IN VIOLATION OF THE BUILDING BYELAWS IN MUNICIPAL AREAS

The Cabinet also gave nod to promulgate ‘The Punjab One-Time Voluntary Disclosure and Settlement of Violations of the Buildings Bill, 2021’ for all unauthorized constructions, which have come up till September 30, 2021. The move is aimed at providing one time opportunity to the violators within the Municipal areas who have made non-compoundable violations in the buildings for regularization without compromising on public safety/security and convenience. However, the compounding fee has also been reduced by 25 percent.

Notably, there are large number of unauthorized buildings where the buildings plans have not been approved. Most of the violations are non-compoundable and therefore such buildings cannot be regularized under the existing provisions. These unauthorized constructions have been coming up for the last many years and at this stage it is not possible to demolish such buildings nor it is desirable to demolish. State Government therefore, feels that the best course of action to deal with such buildings is to regularise them provided these buildings meet fire and safety standards and do not compromise on public safety/security and convenience & also to stop future unauthorized constructions.

ENHANCES MINIMUM WAGES OF SKILLED WORKERS TO RS.9192.72

The Cabinet also approved the enhancement of Minimum Wages with effect from March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020 as per the provisions of ‘The Minimum Wages Act, 1948’ and revision of wages from March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020 after the decision of the Punjab Minimum Wages Advisory Board constituted under the provisions of the said Act. Increase in labour wages/rates will lead to increase in purchasing power of labourers/workers and in turn will boost economic activity in the state. It will also result in better job satisfaction to the worker which will subsequently result in better productivity and harmonious relations with the employer. The Minimum wages based on CPI was due on March 1, 2020 with a raise of Rs 415.89. Resultantly, the Minimum Wage has now been revised from Rs. 8776.83 to Rs. 9192.72. Similarly, with the hike in Minimum Wages, the worker would also be entitled to get arrears of Rs. 8251 from March 1, 2020 up to October, 2021.

AMENDS SECTION 4, IN SUB-SECTION (2), FOR CLAUSE (A) OF PUNJAB FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND BUDGET MANAGEMENT ACT, 2003

To avail the benefit of Normal Net Borrowing Ceiling of 4% of the projected GSDP in the Financial Year 2021-22, allowed by the Government of India, the Cabinet also approved amendment in Section 4, in Sub-Section (2), for Clause (a) of the Punjab Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003.

Out of this Normal Net Borrowing Ceiling of 4% of the projected GSDP, the States will be allowed borrowing permission based on 3.50% of GSDP in the beginning of the financial year 2021-22. The remaining borrowing ceiling of 0.50 per cent (half per cent) of GSDP will be allowed to the States on the basis of capital expenditure incurred by the States during the year 2021-22 against the prescribed target.

Notably, the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, Government of India determines the Net Borrowing Ceiling of States for each financial year on the basis of projected Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of the States. In line with the recommendations of the Fifteenth Finance Commission (FC-XV), Government of India has decided to fix the normal Net Borrowing Ceiling for the States for the financial year 2021-22 at 4.0 per cent (four per cent) of the projected GSDP, which was 3.0 per cent (three per cent) of the GSDP for the financial year 2020-21.

APPROVES PUNJAB ENERGY SECURITY, TERMINATION OF PPAs AND REDETERMINATION OF POWER TARIFF BILL, 2021

The Cabinet also accorded approval to the Punjab Energy Security, Termination of PPAs and Redetermination of Power Tariff Bill, 2021 to be placed in the current session of Vidhan Sabha. With the passing of this Bill by Vidhan Sabha, Power Purchase Agreements with M/s Nabha Power Limited & Talwandi Sabo Power Limited shall stand referred to PSERC for re-determination of tariff.

OKAYS PUNJAB RENEWABLE ENERGY SECURITY, REFORM, TERMINATION AND RE-DETERMINATION OF POWER TARIFF BILL, 2021

In order to enable the state government to evolve statutory measures for sustained development of electricity sector in the state and to make available the electricity to the consumers at an economical, affordable and sustained basis, the Cabinet also gave a go ahead to the Punjab Renewable Energy Security, Reform, Termination and Re-determination of Power Tariff Bill, 2021 to be placed in the ongoing session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

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