Ahead of elections, Punjab cabinet in populist mode

Chandigarh: Financial distress notwithstanding, Punjab government approved populist measures at its cabinet meet yesterday, which included free electricity to poor households, reduced VAT on some items, waived off power bills due from farmers and gave its nod for a policy to regularize unauthorized colonies.

Presided over by chief minister Prakash Singh Badal, the cabinet decided to provide 200 units of power free to poor households each month.

The cabinet also trashed arrears of power consumption bills for tube wells from farmers for a period when power supply was not free for them, a cabinet communiqué declared.

A comprehensive policy to regularize unauthorized colonies within municipal limits of the state was approved by the cabinet.

Under the new policy, municipal institutions would approve the building plans in the demarcated areas after charging requisite development fee from the colonizers.

Purchase tax on sugarcane was reduced from 5 per cent to 2.5 per cent whereas a 10 % surcharge would continued to be levied.

VAT on household items like vercelli machine, coal press, masala grinder, juice machine and mincers was reduced from 12.5 to 5 % by the cabinet, an official spokesman said.

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