The Captain Amarinder Singh led Congress government in Punjab has introduced a slew of new taxes in the state, supposedly to fund its various welfare schemes. As per reports, the Punjab Assembly has passed a, “Punjab Social Security Bill, 2018” on Wednesday which also has a provision for introducing a slew of “social security surcharges”.
These surcharges include an up-to Rs 2 cess on petrol, diesel, 1% on vehicle registration, 5% on electricity bills and 10% on excise duty. The surcharge on electricity bills would render the consumers liable for at least Rs 25 and at most Rs 10,000.
The funds which would be generated from these surcharges would be used to fund social welfare schemes like unemployment allowance, pensions for elderly, widows and differently abled, financial assistance to acid attack victims among others.
This imposition of a surcharge comes a few days after the Punjab government also proposed a new development tax in the state, which would require Income Tax payers to shell out Rs 200 per month.
The “Punjab Social Security Bill, 2018” was passed in the absence of SAD-BJP members who had staged a walkout. It though was opposed by AAP leader HS Phoolka. In his government’s defence, state Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal claimed that the taxes weren’t been imposed right away, with the government just bringing in the legislation.
Regardless of the current status of Punjab’s taxation, it might soon result in a nationwide perception that a Congress led government has decided to burden the taxpayers with a slew of taxes.
What might make matters worse for the Rahul Gandhi led Congress party is that, just a few months back it was seen attacking the Modi government over the GST rates. Reports in November last year claimed that the party was strongly going to seek relaxation in tax rates for various commodities. Congress’s party president Rahul Gandhi was also quoted as saying that if the BJP didn’t reduce the GST rates to a flat 18%, they would do so after coming to power in 2019.