Haryana Vidhan Sabha passed four bills on August 10, the last day of its monsoon session, with the aim of giving a push to public welfare measures, increasing revenue sources, streamlining government bodies’ works and providing basic amenities.
Key amendments were made to the existing provisions of bills so that the state government could have greater authority in governance. We explain what these bills are, and the rationale behind the amendments.
What are the four Bills that were passed?
These were the Haryana Water Resources (Conservation, Regulation and Management) Authority (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022, Haryana Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2022, Haryana Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, and Haryana Municipal (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
What is the Haryana Water Resources (Conservation, Regulation and Management) Authority (Second Amendment) Bill?
The bill’s stated aim is to enhance water conservation, especially in the southern parts of the state, and to ensure proper management of the state’s water resources. The government has amended Section 18 of the Haryana Water Resources Authority (HWRA) Act, 2020, and given it more powers.
“The Authority will decide tariff for bulk water uses of surface water and of treated wastewater on the principles of economy, efficiency, equity and sustainability. The tariff will be based on volumetric measurements of water consumption and will be designed reasonably. It will also fix the retail water rates for individual household, industry or commercial establishment based on the water usage”, the amendment said.
Recently, based on the HWRA recommendations that led to an upward revision in tariff for bulk usage of surface water, a 300 per cent hike was introduced for drinking water. This included the bulk water supplied to railways and the army in Haryana. No revision of the tariff has been ordered for surface and treated water used for irrigation by the agriculture sector.
What does the Haryana Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill say and why was it amended?
It was introduced to amend the Haryana Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill of 1994. Certain sections were amended to correct the objections raised by the Principal Accountant General (Audit).
Earlier, on the registration of immovable properties located in municipal areas, the urban local bodies department had to pay stamp duty to the municipalities. The finance department, however, informed that the two per cent stamp duty (one per cent each) shall be transferred directly to the concerned Municipal Corporation (MC) or Urban Local Bodies (ULB) department.
“The Stamp Duty is to be disbursed to the concerned Municipal Corporation only as per the provisions of the Act…A need was felt to remove the anomaly and to make these provisions consistent with the Government notifications issued in this regard”, said the government.
Similarly, the government wanted to bring uniformity in issuing business or trade licenses across the state. Decades ago, Municipality was the only regulatory authority, but these days multiple regulatory authorities are in place, including the Pollution Control Board, Industrial Safety & Health under the Factories Act 1948, etc. The amendment is to ease business practices in urban areas by eliminating the multiplicity of regulating authorities.
“Inflammable articles are also regulated under separate statutes by the designated authority. As such, there is no justification to issue licenses by municipalities for such types of businesses which are regulated by other statutory authorities”, according to the Haryana government. These licenses are renewed annually and MCs have the power to fix the rate of the license fees by passing resolutions in their respective house meetings.
The government further said, “This practice has created anomalies in imposing trade license fees across the Municipal Corporations of the State at variance with each other which is creating confusion among the public. It is inevitable to create uniformity in the trade license fees throughout all MCs across Haryana and also ensure uniformity in the applicability of trade licenses by restricting them for the purposes which are specified by the government as being dangerous to life, health or property or likely to create nuisance.”
Why was Haryana Municipal (Amendment) Bill introduced and what are the changes that government wants with this amendment?
Through this Bill, the government aims to amend the Haryana Municipalities Act of 1973 and give the command of the Municipal Councils to senior officers. The “area and population” of most of the Municipal Councils have increased, according to the government, which is why it has noted the need to entrust the entire work of the Municipal Council to a senior-level officer.
“Therefore, the concerned District Municipal Commissioner will be the Chief Executive Officer of the Municipal Council of the District Headquarters and the Divisional Commissioner concerned will be entrusted with the appellate and other powers in the matter of the Municipal Council of the District Headquarters which are presently with the District Municipal Commissioner”, the government said.
Under this bill, too, the government aims to bring uniformity to the business and commercial license fees across the state, to remove differences in the determination of license fees by municipal councils and municipalities.
What is the amendment introduced in the Haryana Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Act of 2017 through the Amendment Bill?
The Haryana Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, was enacted by the state government for levying and collecting tax on intra-state supply of goods, services or both.
As per the amendment of the GST Act, now a person shall make an invoice or debit note after November 30 or after the end of the financial year to which such invoice/ debit note relates, or after the date of furnishing the relevant annual return, whichever is earlier. If a person paying tax under GST does not furnish the return for any financial year three months after the due date, his registration may be cancelled.
Also, a new sub-section was added to calculate the interest if anyone wrongly avails input tax credit.