PUNJAB CM ASKS EXCISE DEPT TO EXPLORE GOVT. INTERVENTION IN LIQUOR TRADE

 

·        DIRECTS DEPT TO EXAMINE PROPOSAL TO SET UP WHOLESALE LIQUOR CORPORATION

 Chandigarh, November 23: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday directed the Excise Department to explore the possibility of setting up a wholesale liquor corporation for the distribution of liquor, as a step towards ending monopolistic practices in the trade and earning revenue for the state exchequer.

 The decision was taken at the first meeting of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Finance, set up to regularly review the cash-strapped state’s fiscal situation. The sub-committee is headed by the Chief Minister and has Brahm Mohindra, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Research and Medical Education, Parliamentary Affairs, and Manpreet Badal, Minister for Finance, as members.  The sub-committee has been tasked with finding ways of curtailing expenditure and mobilizing resources.

 Chairing the maiden meeting today, the Chief Minister asked the Excise Department to check on the feasibility of government intervention in the liquor trade, which is currently completely controlled by private players in the state. He asked the Department to work out the modalities for developing a corporation for wholesale distribution of liquor.

 The Department earlier made a presentation to the sub-committee explaining the existing value chain in the liquor trade and also highlighting the model followed by other states, including Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Rajasthan, according to the spokesperson.

 A move to shift to a multi-year liquor policy from the prevailing one-year policy was also discussed by the sub-committee, which instructed the Excise Department to submit a detailed proposal.

 The chief minister also sought a proposal on restructuring of the Excise and Taxation departments to ensure more focussed administration of commercial taxes and excise with infusion of greater technology and specialization.

 The Chief Minister said it was important for various departments to come out with innovative ways to generate revenue for the state, which has inherited a debt burden of Rs 2,08,000 crore from the previous SAD-BJP government. The Excise Department has been asked to take steps to significantly raise its revenue generation targets over the next three years.

 With a fiscal deficit of Rs 34,000 crore and revenue deficit of Rs 13,000 crore, the Congress government in the state is battling a major challenge as it strives to combat the fiscal crisis.

 Prominent amongst those present in the meeting included Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Chief Minister’s Media Advisor Raveen Thukral, Chairman of the Punjab Governance Reforms and Ethics Commission K R Lakhanpal, Advisor Financial Resources V K Garg, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary Excise and Taxation M P Singh, Principal Secretary Finance Anirudh Tewari and Excise and Taxation Commissioner Vivek Partap Singh.

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NAVJOT SINGH SIDHU CRACKS WHIP ON CORRUPTION  MINISTER INSISTS ON ZERO TOLERANCE TO CORRUPT PRACTICES

STP ORDERED TO BE DISMISSED FOR VIOLATING BUILDING BYE-LAWS & UNAUTHORISED CONVERSION OF RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS INTO HOTELS SANS PERMISSION FROM AUTHORITIES

OFFICERS TO BE REVERTED TO ONE RANK BELOW WITH CUT IN PENSION FOR 7 OTHERS

Chandigarh, November 23:“The Punjab Government led by the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh has adopted zero tolerance approach towards the corrupt practices and it is in keeping with this ideology that the Local Government Minister, Punjab, Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu has cracked down on corruption with heavy hand in a matter pertaining to the malpractices with regard to the galiara project in Amritsar.”

In a statement here today, a spokesman of the department said that 33 officials of the corporation cadre, who remained posted at Municipal Corporation Amritsar and dealt with issues regarding galiara project were chargesheeted for dereliction of duty and willful violation of the provisions of the Municipal Corporation Act and Rules framed there under Rule 8 of the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment & Appeals) Rules.

 After following due procedure as per rules and after obtaining comments from the charged officials, an enquiry was conducted with Additional District Judge (Retd.) Mr. B.C. Gupta  as enquiry officer. The enquiry officer submitted its report on 27-1-2016 as per which charges couldn’t be proven against 20 officials while the rest were found guilty. The enquiry was conducted in pursuant to the directions of the Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court in CWP 14900 of 2010 alleging vast amount of the violations of building bye-laws taking place concerning above mentioned project with the unauthorized conversion of residential buildings into hotels, serais and guest houses in and around the area of galiara in the holy city without seeking permission from the competent authority and without paying conversion charges thus causing a colossal loss to the departmental exchequer.

The spokesman further elaborated that after receiving enquiry report, show cause notices were issued and after receiving the replies, the competent authority issued orders imposing punishments such as stopping annual increments and nominal cut in the pensions for 3 years to the tune of 10 percent for those employees who had retired. Those still in service were penalized with stoppage of 3 annual increments with cumulative effect.

The spokesman also divulged that upon reviewing the entire matter considering its gravity, the Local Government Minister Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu decided to give personal hearing to all concerned officials for reviewing/enhancement of punishment commensurate with their misconduct. During the personal hearing, the charged officials were unable to refute charges of dereliction of duty.

So, reviewing the case in its entirety and examining the full record and pondering over the submissions of the charged officials, the minister has decided to impose punishment of dismissal from service in case of Hemant Batra, the then STP Amritsar. Other officials namely Banke Bihari ATP, Rajinder Sharma ATP and Harjinder Singh Building Inspector have been ordered to be reverted to 1 rank below. In case of Shakti Sagar Bhatia STP, Des Raj MTP, Surjit Singh ATP, Ramesh Chandra ATP, Suresh Raj ATP, Manohar Singh Bhatti ATP and Michel, Building Inspector, the punishment of 50 percent cut in the pension for a period of 3 years has been decided to be imposed.

According to the spokesman, this has been done to send a strong message to all to discharge their duties in an honest, transparent manner with adherence to the rules in letter and spirit.