Punjab

PUNJAB CABINET OKAYS NEW TOURISM POLICY TO MAKE PUNJAB WORLD-CLASS DESTINATION, AIMED AT DOUBLING ANNUAL TOURIST VISITS IN 5 YEARS

February 15, 2018 07:07 PM

Chandigarh (Face2News)

The Punjab cabinet, led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, has approved the draft of 'Punjab State Tourism Policy, 2018', aimed at doubling the annual tourist visits and establishing the state as a world-class destination in the next five years.

Stamping its approval on the draft, the state cabinet, at a meeting chaired by the chief minister, agreed that the new policy would help attract high value tourism through responsible and sustainable development of sensitive tourism resources through a series of initiatives, including information dissemination and optimal use of electronic techniques including the social media. The new policy will replace the existing tourism policy of 2003.

Aimed at providing impetus to the tourism industry, besides attracting both domestic as well as foreign tourists to the state, the policy deals with various aspects of tourism, including human resource development, marketing & promotion, rural tourism and infrastructure development, medical tourism, heritage tourism and film tourism.

Under the policy, the state government will work relentlessly to double the annual tourist visits from 25 million to 50 million in the next five years by creating new infrastructure and improving the existing one. Training and capacity building activities will be made available, under the skill development programme, to the maximum number of people in the tourism sector, thus helping in employment generation for local youth, and also enabling the tourism industry to provide better services and motivate more tourists to come to Punjab.

The policy envisages investment promotion in the field of tourism through an investment portfolio for the information and motivation of potential investors. The state government’s investment portfolio would include projects pertaining to accommodation, transport, organization of conducted tours, conferences and conventions, and related fields. With electronic methods and social media deployment high on the agenda, the marketing operations would be managed by a team of well-qualified and experienced professionals.

The Circuit Touring concept would be promoted through thematic circuits which would attract the specific segment of the market that is interested in a specific destination or theme. Some of the thematic circuits which would be promoted include; the Mughal Circuit; the Maharajah Circuit; Amritsar Circuit; the Patiala Trail, the Ludhiana Circuit; the Chandigarh Circuit; the Nature Circuit; the Ferozepur Circuit (comprising the Indo-Pak frontier trail), Taste Punjab, the Punjab Retreat, Fashionable Punjab, Punjab in Style, Festive Punjab, and Punjab Agri-tours.

It may be noted that during 2016, a total of 6.60 lakh foreign tourists visits were recorded in the state, as against 2.43 lac in 2015, while the number of domestic tourist visits stood at 3.87 crore in 2016 as against 2.58 crore in 2015, helping Punjab attain the 13th rank in domestic tourist visits and 10th rank in foreign tourists visits.

IMPOROTANT CABINET DECISIONS

*OKAYS CREATION OF BORDER CADRE FOR TEACHERS, WILL TAKE AG’S OPINION ON RECRUITMENT FROM SAME DISTRICTS*GO-AHEAD TO RENAMING OF KEY PLANNING & POLICY DEPARTMENTS* PUNJAB CM, MINISTERS DECIDE TO PAY THEIR OWN INCOME TAX*DECIDES TO CREATE SEPARATE DEPARTMENT OF MINING & GEOLOGY *NEW PUNJAB MUNICIPAL OUTDOOR AD POLICY GETS CABINET NOD, EXPECTED TO RAISE ADDITIONAL RS 200 CR FOR STATE *CREATION OF BORDER CADRE FOR TEACHERS, WILL TAKE AG’S OPINION ON RECRUITMENT FROM SAME DISTRICTS

GIVES NOD TOTRANSPORTATION AND LABOUR & CARTAGE POLICIES FOR RABI 2018-19

To facilitate smooth and timely procurement of grains during the 2018-19 Rabi season, the Punjab cabinet has given its nod to 'The Punjab Food Grains Transportation Policy, 2018-19' and 'The Punjab Labour & Cartage Policy, 2018-19'. The new policies will apply to the various procurement agencies of the State Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs department. These include Pungrain, Markfed, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, Punsup, Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation and Food Corporation of India (FCI), which procure food grains from various designated centres/mandis.

To ensure full preparedness and hassle-free lifting during the Rabi 2018-19 procurement season, commencing from April 1, 2018, the cabinet has okayed the new policies for labour and cartage & transportation of Wheat from mandis to the storage points.

Under the policies, for smooth transportation and timely lifting of grains, various Labour & Cartage (L&C) Societies will be given priority to carry out the operations of labour and cartage at the basic rates. The remaining work of labour and cartage (up to 8 Kms) and transportation of Wheat, beyond 8 kms, will be allocated though a competitive and transparent online tender system.

In another significant decision, the Cabinet also approved the draft notification regarding amendments to the Punjab Food Security Rules, 2016, to specify the provisions related to social audit.

It may be noted that the Government of India has made the benefits available under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) a legal right by implementing the National Food Security Act-2013 (NFSA). The Act was implemented in the Punjab in December 2013, under which the Punjab Government had notified Punjab Public Distribution System (Licensing and Control) Order, 2016 on April 22, 2016.

As per Section 40 (3) of National Food Security Act, 2013, the rules framed by the state government have to be placed before the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. But as per the orders of Supreme Court of India in Writ Petition (Civil) No.857 of 2015- Swaraj Abhiyan Vs. Union of India and others, the Government of India directed all the States to amend the rules framed by the states and made a provision related to social audit. The Government of India also directed initiation of the process of social audit under NFSA during the Gram Samridhi and Swachhta Pakhwada organized by Ministry of Rural Development.

OKAYS CREATION OF BORDER CADRE FOR TEACHERS, WILL TAKE AG’S OPINION ON RECRUITMENT FROM SAME DISTRICTS

The Punjab government has decided to seek the opinion of the state Advocate-General on recruitment of teachers from their respective districts in the border cadre, which was cleared today by the state cabinet.

During Thursday’s cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder, the cabinet decided to create a separate cadre of teachers for the six border districts of Pathankot, Amritsar, Fazilka, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur and Gurdaspur. While some of the ministers suggested that border cadre teachers be recruited from the same districts, the Chief Minister advised that the matter be put up to the AG for his opinion.

The meeting also decided to set up a cabinet sub-committee to oversee the implementation of Right to Education (RTE) and to examine the suggestions of the Education Department on revamping the education system in government schools. The cabinet took serious note of the fact that private schools continued to deprive poor students of admission despite reservations for them under RTE.

The sub-committee, comprising Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, Higher Education Minister Aruna Chaudhary, Rural Development Minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, will submit its report within 15 days, an official spokesperson disclosed after the cabinet meeting.

The cabinet also informally discussed the Education Department’s proposal to formulate a policy for rationalization of the teacher-student ratio to make it more balanced, as also suggested by the central government. The department was asked by the cabinet to present a formal proposal in this regard in the next meeting.

Earlier, the cabinet, which approved 19 Draft Service Rules for various cadres in the School Education Department, discussed the need for special cadre for the border districts. It was decided that the employees appointed in the border cadre would have their separate promotion channels.

The new rules, necessitated by the old ones becoming outdated and irrelevant in the changing environment, also provide for special incentives such as additional HRA and one additional increment at every level in the border cadre.

Under the old rules, the service conditions of non-teaching staff were governed by the Rules framed in the year of 1941, while those of Headmasters, Lecturers, Masters and Classical and Vernacular Teachers were governed by the Rules framed in 1955 and 1978. Several court judgements have since underlined the need to change in the selection process. Taking guidance from these judgements, and in order to recruit the best personnel in different services, a new set of qualifications has been proposed in the various sets of draft rules which the cabinet has approved. 

NEW PUNJAB MUNICIPAL OUTDOOR AD POLICY GETS CABINET NOD, EXPECTED TO RAISE ADDITIONAL RS 200 CR FOR STATE

In a move that is expected to generate an additional Rs 200 crore in revenue for the state, the Punjab cabinet today approved the 'Punjab Municipal Outdoor Advertisement Policy-2018', aimed at regulating the process of outdoor advertising in order to address technological changes in the field, while ensuring enhanced public safety.

The new policy, okayed by the cabinet at its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, stipulates provisions relating to permissible content on outdoor advertisement and also provides for identification of suitable places where advertisement rights can be awarded.

In the absence of such a policy, the government was being deprived of much-needed revenue while private companies were making money, Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu told the cabinet, underlining the need for drastic changes to the existing outdoor advertising system.

Giving details, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister's Office said that the policy was aimed at awarding advertising rights through e-tendering/e-auction/e-bidding by municipalities, without causing traffic or any other type of hindrance in the towns. Not only will this ensure total transparency in the system but will also enhance public safety, he said.

Under the policy, separate advertisement sites/spaces have been proposed to be reserved for government advertisement/display which can be utilized by the government whenever required. Further, it provides that certain advertisement sites/spaces be reserved for social and religious works which should not be awarded by tender but should be allotted by the Municipalities to prevent any obstacle to social and cultural activities. The Policy bars any advertisement on historical and archaeological buildings etc.

Elaborating further on the salient features of the new policy, the spokesperson said that the Municipal Corporations/Municipal Councils/Nagar Panchayats have been empowered to regulate the outdoor advertisement within their jurisdiction effectively. Taking into consideration the revenue resulting from advertising, separate categories for advertisement devices have been formulated. To ensure transparency and hassle-free approvals for outdoor advertisement, specific procedure and time frame has been fixed. Apart from these, details regarding the permissible content on the outdoor advertisement have been provided in the policy.

The spokesperson said the Local Government Department had examined the existing Outdoor Advertisement Policies/byelaws of the municipalities of the neighbouring states like Haryana, Delhi etc. After examining all the issues meticulously, the Department formulated a draft of Punjab Municipal Outdoor Policy-2018, by amending the existing 'The Punjab Outdoor Advertisement Policy-2012'. 

DECIDES TO CREATE SEPARATE DEPARTMENT OF MINING & GEOLOGY  

The Punjab government has decided to hive Mining and Geology from the Department of Industries and Commerce and set it up as a separate unit to ensure sustainable development of the sector, which is witnessing fast-paced development and has emerged as a major contributor to the state’s revenue.

The decision, which is in line with the system followed by various other states, was taken by the state cabinet at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh here on Thursday.

The move will entail no additional monetary burden for the state since the cadre of the new department, which will have 598 employees, will be drawn from the Water Resources Department, an official spokesperson said after the cabinet meeting.

The cabinet noted that with expansion of mining activities, there were growing environmental, administrative and legal, as well as marketing and financial challenges, which required special focus on mining activities. This had become even more important with the introduction of the progressive bidding regime, which had led to the mining sector emerging as a significant contributor to the state’s revenues.

The cabinet further noted that since most of the mining activities are carried out in the river beds, the Department of Water Resources, with its professional manpower and technical prowess, was better suited to provide the necessary wherewithal to the new department of mining.

The cabinet accepted the suggestion of the meeting, held under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary on February 2, that mining be separated from industrial activities. It agreed that the Industries and Commerce Department was seriously constrained in overseeing the mining segment in view of the limited manpower allocated to mining activities and also its growing focus on industrial promotion and business development, as per the state government’s thrust under the new industrial policy.

Increasing demand for sand and gravel as construction material had led to rapid growth in sand mining activities, triggering various problems, which the Industries and Commerce department was no longer equipped to handle, the cabinet felt.

The February 2 meeting, attended by representatives of the Department of Industries and Commerce, Department of Water Resources and Department of General Administration, had discussed the issues related to the establishment of the new department, in terms of structure, staff and space requirement, IT systems and project management consultancy. The meeting had discussed the widespread expansion of mining activities in the state in recent times, necessitating increased resources for surveys, preparation of mining plans, managing auction process and post auction management, besides enforcement of the contracts.

Currently, as per Rules of Allocation of Business of Government of Punjab, the subject of Mining is allocated to the department of Industries and Commerce, which administers the Petroleum Act 1934, the Mines Act, 1952 and the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, besides implementing the Petroleum Rules, 1937, the Petroleum Concession Rules 1949 and the Mineral Concession Rules, 1964. 

PUNJAB CM, MINISTERS DECIDE TO PAY THEIR OWN INCOME TAX

All Punjab ministers, led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, on Thursday announced their decision to voluntarily pay their own income tax, which is currently being paid out of the government exchequer.

The announcement followed a personal appeal by the Chief Minister during a meeting of the state cabinet.

With respect to the MLAs, the Chief Minister said the final decision on their self-payment of income tax would be taken after receiving their feedback on the proposal.

The development comes within days of the Chief Minister suggesting that elected representatives in the state, including ministers and MLAs, should pay their own income tax.

The tax was currently being paid by the government and draining the exchequer, the chief minister had said.

Punjab was probably the only state in the country to follow the system of the government paying taxes for all ministers and MLAs, Captain Amarinder had said, pointing out that the tax being paid by the state government on this account stood at Rs. 11.08 crore. While Rs. 10.72 crore was spent on payment of income tax of the MLAs, the remaining was for the ministers. 

GO-AHEAD TO RENAMING OF KEY PLANNING & POLICY DEPARTMENTS  

To ensure more focused policy formulation, the Punjab Council of Ministers on Thursday approved restructuring and renaming of key departments relating to planning and policy. 

A cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, gave the go-ahead to renaming the Department of Planning as Department of Economic Policy and Planning, while  the Punjab State Planning Board will be known as Economic Policy and Planning Board.

This will help the two units to primarily focus more cogently on formulating policies for the development of the state, and on monitoring and reviewing the implementation of these policies, besides suggesting mid-course corrections.

The decision has been taken following the abolition of Planning Commission, the Government of India, which has now been replaced with the NITI Aayog—an organization entrusted with the task of policy making. Some state governments have already reorganized their Planning Departments.  

The Chief Minister has also been appealing to party colleagues and rich farmers to give up their free power subsidy in the state’s larger interest.

CABINET SUB-COMMITTEE FORMED TO GET ILLEGALLY OCCUPIED GOVT LAND VACATED   

A cabinet sub-committee has been constituted to crack down on unauthorized occupation of government land in the state. Expressing concern over the illegal occupation of government property in villages and towns across the state, the cabinet on Thursday set up the committee under the chairmanship of Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Finance Minister Manpreet Badal and Rural Development & Panchayat Minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa are other members of the committee, an official spokesperson disclosed after the cabinet meeting.

The sub-committee has been tasked with identification of such unauthorized occupation. It will also suggest ways and means of getting such properties vacated in order to help the state government monetize them and raise the much-needed revenue. 

The financially strapped state government has been exploring ways and means to generate resources and the cabinet felt this initiative would also contribute to the efforts.

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