Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday ruled out reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel in the state for now.
Addressing mediapersons here, Amarinder said, VAT collection on petrol was one of the three sources of income for the state. “If we reduce VAT on petrol and diesel, how will we function? Sab kuch Government of India ne saambh leya (Government of India has taken over everything.) Now, they want to take over the rest. Punjab kol reh ki geya, pher sadi vi chutti karo (What is left with Punjab?)” he asked.
Responding to a question that prices were much lesser in Chandigarh and Haryana, Amarinder said the government was watching the prices in the international market. “Let us wait till the end of this month. If prices go down in the coming days, then would we increase the prices again?” he asked.
Amarinder’s reaction to Centre’s appeal to states to cut their share of VAT on petroleum products has come for the first time Monday. Earlier, the government had been stating that they would hold a meeting of the officials and ministers to take a call. But the meeting was never held.
Meanwhile, after Amarinder’s straight answer, the Petrol Pump Dealers Association Punjab has called a meeting of the dealers in Ludhiana on Wednesday, “We will discuss the issue and we will go on strike against state’s decision,” said Monty Sehgal, spokesperson of PPDAP.
Citing funds crunch, Amarinder also said his government was trying its best to address the problems of the agitating teachers and other Ad-hoc employees and would try to bring a solution in the winter session of the Vidhan Sabha.
Though his government had no money to pay them, it was looking into the issues raised by the teachers and making its best efforts to resolve the same, the CM said.
There are about 40,000 employees, including teachers, who have to be regularised, he observed, adding that the Education Department had negotiated with the teachers and given them the option to either continue on contractual basis or join at basic pay of Rs 15,000 and work for three years before being regularised.
They have the option to either continue working on ad-hoc basis for the time being, in view of the financial crunch faced by the state government, or join at basic pay, said the Chief Minister.
Amarinder said while he had his full sympathies for the teachers, his hands were tied on account of the fiscal crisis inherited by his government from the erstwhile SAD-BJP government.