The Punjab Cabinet Tuesday gave its go-ahead for an increase in women reservation in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) from 33 per cent to 50 per cent. A decision to this effect was taken by the Council of Minister in a meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
The draft Bill to amend the Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911 and the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, will be placed in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha budget session, commencing on Wednesday, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said after the Cabinet meeting.
The amendment will help empower women in the rural areas by enhancing their reservation quota in the direct elections for the members of Gram Panchayats, Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads, besides Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats. The representation of women in the offices of Sarpanches of Gram Panchayats, Chairmen Panchayats Samitis/Zila Parishads besides Mayors of Municipal Corporations and Presidents of Municipal Councils/Nagar Panchayats will also be enhanced accordingly.
The Cabinet also gave the go-ahead for the draft model GST Bill to be put before the state assembly, while giving its approval to the report of the Fifth State Finance Commission submitted to the Punjab Governor.
The Fifth State Finance Commission, which the Cabinet has approved, recommends the continuation of existing devolution of four per cent share of net proceeds of State Taxes to Local Bodies for the year 2016-17 to 2020-21. This will result in transfer of Rs 4,364.40 crore (Estimated) to both Rural and Urban Local Bodies, with the state government accepting the Commission’s recommendations regarding share of Urban Local Bodies and inter-se distribution among PRIs.
The Cabinet has also accepted other main recommendations of the Commission, such as compensatory payments in lieu of octroi, income from levy of octroi on electricity, share of excise duty and auction money, urban local bodies in lieu of octroi on liquor, distribution methodology for devolution among urban local bodies and three tiers of PRIs and inter-se distribution of local bodies, with some amendments.
The Cabinet also decided to bring the draft bill regarding the appointment of Administrators by way superseding existing nominated market committees by amending section 12 of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961, in the budget session.
The Cabinet also decided to exempt the mega food parks being set up in the state from the provisions of Section 44 (2) of the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995 (PAPRA). The decision is aimed at boosting the development of the food procession industry, especially the Mega Food Parks projects in the state, besides securing employment for the unemployed youth. The decision will exclude future projects from the requirement of taking a license under PARA.
To ensure fiscal management in view of constraints in resources of revenue, the cabinet decided to seek Government of India’s approval to swap high cost market loans taken by the state government with new low cost market loans.
The Cabinet also gave its nod for the Khalsa University (Repeal) Ordinance, 2017 to be presented in the house for enactment. The decision reverses the decision of the previous SAD-BJP government to set up a Khalsa University.