As Cabinet reviewed the Punjab’s fiscal situation Friday amid the coronavirus crisis, a few ministers suggested a salary cut for government employees on the lines of other states. But a consensus could not be reached as others argued that several, including police and health workers, were at the forefront to the COVID-19 battle and a salary cut at this juncture was not advisable.
The ministers also authorised the CM to nominate four additional members on the Cabinet Sub-committee on Fiscal Management for broad-based discussion and decision on expenditure cuts needed to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
The Cabinet has now asked various departments to send their proposals for expenditure cuts by Monday and it was decided that the Cabinet sub-committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss the same.
Finance Minister Manpreet Badal informed the meeting that Rs 30,000 crore revenue earned through the upcoming procurement operations would be infused into the state’s economy. This would help in strengthening the COVID-19 battle of the state, a statement quoted CM Amarinder Singh as saying.
Private hospitals to join COVID battle
In a major decision, the Punjab Cabinet on Friday approved the Punjab Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Ordinance 2020, to bring the state’s private hospitals under the umbrella of the COVID-19 battle. “It was necessary for the private hospitals to join the battle against COVID-19,” Amarinder told his ministers.
The ordinance will provide for registration and regulation of clinical establishments in a professional manner to ensure compliance of clinical standards and protocols and transparency in the functioning of these establishments for fair and proper delivery of health services to the common man.
There would be no undue interference in day-to-day functioning of these establishments, as per the proposed legislation, which will, to begin with, be applicable to all clinical establishments of 50 beds and above as in the case of Haryana. It is proposed that the Punjab Health Council be headed by an expert/professional of national repute instead of a bureaucrat, with at least two other professionals as members.
NREGA funds for assisting labour force
The CM has mooted utilisation of ESIC, MGNREGA and other such funds by the Centre to provide part of the wages or lump sum financial assistance to industrial workers during the period of lockdown. The Chief Minister has written to Union Minister of State Labour & Employment (independent charge) Santosh Gangwar in this regard.
“Any such mandate of asking the industries to pay the workers would only compound the problem and may even lead to lockdown/closure of many industrial units, which indeed is not the spirit behind these directions,” the CM said.
Class 5 and 8 students to be promoted
The Cabinet alsl decided to promote all Class 5 and 8 kids to next grade without conducting pending board exams. Two written exams for Class 5 and practical exam for Class 8 were pending when lockdown was announced due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) was conducting exams for these classes after a decade. Written exams for Class 8 were already over.
In another decision, summer vacations of both government and private schools have been advanced. The one-month vacation will now begin on April 11 and end on May 10.
Punjab Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla said that all private schools are free to extend the period as per their requirement.
(With inputs from ENS, Ludhiana)
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