Capt Amarinder government accepts employees’ demand for increase in state share in new pension scheme w.e.f April 1, 2019

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Chandigarh, December 2, 2019: Accepting a major demand of various state government employee unions, the Punjab Government on Monday decided to increase its share in the New Pension Scheme, in line with the decision of the Government of India, w.e.f April 1, 2019.
The Punjab Cabinet, led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, has decided to hike the state’s monthly matching contribution for employees under the New Pension Scheme from 10% to 14% of Basic Pay + Dearness Allowance (DA).
This is in consonance with the notification issued by the Ministry of Finance, Department of Financial Services, GoI, on January 31, 2019.
The government has also agreed to give the benefit of Death-Cum-Retirement Gratuity to all the employees of the state government recruited on or after January 1, 2004 and covered under the New Pension Scheme, said an official spokesperson after the cabinet meeting.
In another decision, the cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to the Department of Finance’s proposal to allow implementation of the benefit of ex-gratia to the dependents of employees recruited on or after January 1, 2004, who die in harness, on the lines of benefits extended under the old pension scheme.
The total number of the state government employees is 3,53,074, of whom 1,52,646 are covered under the New Pension Scheme (NPS). The annual expenditure on account of contribution by the state @ 10% of basic pay+DA for the employees covered under NPS during the financial year 2018-19 was Rs.585 crore and during the Financial Year 2019-20 is expected to be Rs.645 crore.
Since the Punjab government has largely adopted the guidelines of Government of India as far as the NPS is concerned, the monthly matching contribution of state government to 14% of basic pay+DA for its employees covered under NPS will be enhanced w.e.f April 1, 2019. The annual financial implication of enhancement in the matching contribution will be Rs.258 crore over and above the earlier contribution of Rs.645 crore.

PUNJAB CABINET OKAYS AMENDMENTS TO FACTORIES ACT, INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES ACT & CONTRACT LABOUR ACT TO BOOST INVESTMENT CLIMATE & EMPLOYMENT GENERATION
Chandigarh, December 2, 2019: To further strengthen the state’s investment climate and boost employment generation, the Punjab Cabinet led by the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday approved various amendments to the Factories Act, 1948, Industrial Disputes Act 1947 and Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970.
It has also okayed an ordinance to bring in the Punjab Right to Business Act 2019 and Punjab Right to Business Rules 2019, aimed at promoting ease of doing business for the newly incorporated Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Giving details, an official spokesperson said the Cabinet has given its nod to amendments to section 2 (m) (i), 2 (m) (ii), 85, Section 56, Section 59, Section 65(3) and Section 105, as well as insertion of new section 106 B, in the Factories Act, 1948, through promulgation of an ordinance.
The ordinance will increase the threshold limit of number of workers from ‘ten’ and ‘twenty’ to ‘twenty’ and ‘forty’, in factories with manufacturing processes being carried out with or without the aid of power, respectively. This will help promote establishment of small manufacturing units to create more employment opportunities for workers. Consequently, the existing Section 2 m (i), 2 m(ii), 85, 56 and 65(3)(iv) of the Act are proposed to be amended.
The need for increasing the total number of hours of work on overtime in quarter is based on the demand from industries so that factories can carry out the work on urgent basis.
Further, the existing sub-section(1) of section 105 is proposed to be amended to the effect that cognizance of any offence shall be taken by the Court on complaint made by an Inspector only after obtaining previous sanction in writing from the State Government. Under the existing provisions of Act, there is no provision for compounding of offences, resulting in high number of prosecution cases. For speedy disposal of offences and to minimize litigation, a new provision, i.e. section 106 B is proposed to be inserted for compounding of offences.
In another decision, the Cabinet approved amendment to Section 25K (1) to increase the minimum number of workers for applying the provisions relating to layoffs , retrenchment and closure from 100 to 300, while ensuring a minimum notice period of 3 months.
Cabinet further approved amendment to sub clause (a) & (b) of clause 4 of section 1 of the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970. This will help give fillip to employment generation in the state by enhancing the ambit of the Act from present threshold limit of 20 to 50 workers.
Meanwhile, the government has also decided to bring in the Punjab Right to Business Act 2019 and Punjab Right to Business Rules 2019 to reduce the regulatory compliance burden by waiving off the requirement of certain approvals and inspections for establishment and operations for MSMEs in the state while introducing the provision of self-declaration.
Sanction of building plans, issuance of completion/occupation certificate for buildings, application for fire NOC, Registration of Trade License, besides Change of Land use, approval of factory building plan and registration of shop or establishment, are major services covered under the Act.
Under the new ordinance, a State Nodal Agency under Director Industries & Commerce will be set up to monitor and supervise the overall functioning of the district level nodal agency, to be headed by the Deputy Commissioners.
DCs have been designated as Chief Executive Officers of the District Bureaus of Enterprise, to be set up across state. The DBEs would act as district-level nodal agencies which would operate under the overall superintendence of the state government and the state nodal agency.
Under the Act, the district level nodal agency would assist MSME enterprise/(s) in maintaining record of ‘Declaration of Intent’ received, and issue ‘Certificate of In-principle Approval’ to the new enterprise, being set up in approved industrial park. For MSME units proposed outside the approved industrial park, the decision on issuance of ‘Certificate of In-Principle Approval’ would be taken by the District Level Nodal Agency within a period of 15 working days.
Punjab is home to approximately 2 lakh MSME units, which are one of the most important pillars of the industrial growth.

PUNJAB CABINET GIVES IN-PRINCIPLE APPROVAL FOR AMENDMENT TO RULES FOR PURCHASE OF SHAMLAT LAND FROM PANCHAYATS FOR INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT

Chandigarh, December 2, 2019: The Punjab Cabinet led by Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday gave in-principle approval to amend the Punjab Village Common Land (Regulation) Rules, 1964, to create land banks in rural areas to boost industrial development in the state.
It was, however, decided to further fine tune the amendments to ensure that the Panchayats get their dues, with all decisions to be taken on case to case basis, keeping their interests in view, according to an official spokesperson.
The Cabinet cleared the proposal of the Rural Development and Panchayats Department for insertion of Rule 12-B in the ‘Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Rules, 1964’ to provide special provision for transfer of Shamlat Lands for development of Industrial infrastructure projects, to be implemented by Industry Department and Punjab Small Industries & Export Corporation.
The underlying objective of this amendment is to facilitate Gram Panchayats to promote development of villages by unlocking the value of Shamlat land. The new rule would pave the way for transfer of Shamlat Land for Industrial projects to the Industry Department and Punjab Small Industries & Export Corporation (PSIEC).
With this amendment, a Gram Panchayat could, with the prior approval of the State Government, transfer the Shamlat land vested in it by way of sale on deferred payment terms to Industries Department or PSIEC for their Industrial infrastructure projects. The rates for such transfer may be determined by the committee constituted in clause (2) of sub-rule (3-A) of Rule 6. The transferee will pay a minimum 25% upfront amount, with balance to be paid as per terms and conditions to be notified separately.
The cabinet also approved the modalities to grant sanction to transfer Gram Panchayat lands for the development of various Industrial Infrastructure Development Projects.
It may be recalled that the Industries Department had proposed to amend Rule 12-A to develop robust infrastructure, including core and supporting infrastructure, which would provide long- term benefits to the industry for planned industrial growth.
The State Government has proposed to develop a Global Manufacturing and Knowledge Park at Rajpura in Patiala district, to be considered as an Integrated Manufacturing Cluster (IMC) under the AKIC project covering 1000 acres of Panchayat lands. In this context, the State Government has identified about 1000 acres Panchayat lands in five villages i.e. Sehra (467 acres), Sehri (159 acres), Aakri (168 acres), Pabra (159 acres) and Takhtu Majra (47 acres), for which in-principle approval has already been given by the Industrial and Business Development Board in its meeting on December 27, 2017, held under the Chairmanship of the Chief Minister. To achieve the object, the Executive Agency (PSIEC) requires the outright purchase of 1000 acres of Shamlat land at a cost of around Rs. 357 Crores from these Panchayats.
Besides this project, other proposals are also being received for development of industrial parks by PSIEC on Panchayat lands. Moreover, the annual lease holders of Gram Panchayats may need to be resettled by purchase of cultivable land by Gram Panchayats.
Notably, the Government of India had formed an Apex Monitoring Authority for National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust, headed by the Union Finance Minister, and had asked the State to make available the land for the development of Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC) at the earliest. The proposed economic corridor between the cities of Amritsar and Kolkata was envisaged to further give impetus to industrial activities in the Northern and Eastern parts of the country.

PUNJAB CABINET OKAYS ORDINANCE TO AMEND STATE GST ACT IN LINE WITH CENTRAL GST CHANGES OF 2019
Chandigarh, December 2, 2019: The Punjab Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 is all set to be suitably amended, in line with the Central GST Act, to further promote ease of business in the state.
The State Cabinet, at its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, on Monday approved the Punjab Goods and Services Tax Ordinance, 2019, to make amendments in accordance with those made to the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, of which it was a replica, vide Finance (No.2) Bill, 2019.
Disclosing this, an official spokesperson, however, made it clear that the wording of Section 39, 44, 52, 53-A and 101-A has to be kept different in PGST Act, 2017, from the relevant sections of CGST Act, 2017. Further, amendment in Section 168 which has been made in CGST Act, 2017 is not required to be made in State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) Act, 2017.
It may be recalled that the GST Council, in its 35th meeting held on June, 21, 2019, had recommended various amendments in the provisions of Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017. The same were incorporated in the Finance (No. 2) Bill, 2019, and received the Presidential Assent on August 1, 2019. Similar amendments need to be carried out in the Punjab Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, in order to safeguard the interests of taxpayers and promote hassle-free business.
The Ordinance approved today by the state cabinet provides for an alternative composition scheme for supplier of services or mixed suppliers (not eligible for the earlier composition scheme), having an annual turnover in preceding financial year upto Rs. 50 lakhs.
It further provides for higher threshold exemption limit from Rs. 25 lakhs, to such amount not exceeding Rs. 40 lakhs, in case of a supplier who is engaged exclusively in the supply of goods.
It also provides for furnishing of annual returns and for quarterly payment of tax by taxpayer who opts for composition levy, as well as mandatory Aadhaar submission or authentication for persons who intend to take or have taken registration.
The amendment will also empower the PGST Commissioner to extend the due date for furnishing Annual return and reconciliation statement. It will give taxpayers the facility to transfer an amount from one head to another in the electronic cash ledger, among other benefits.

Date: 
Monday, December 2, 2019