Chandigarh, Feb 15 (IANS) All Punjab ministers, led by Chief Minister 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 came after a meeting of the state cabinet here on Thursday.
Besides Amarinder Singh, there are nine ministers in the Punjab government presently. The maximum strength of the ministry can be 18.
“With respect to the MLAs, Amarinder Singh said the final decision on their self-payment of income tax would be taken after receiving their feedback on the proposal,” a spokesperson of the Chief Minister said here.
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, Amarinder Singh had said.
Punjab was probably the only state in the country to follow the system of the government paying taxes for all ministers and legislators.
Amarinder Singh pointed out that the tax being paid by the state government on this account stood at Rs 11.08 crore annually. While Rs 10.72 crore was spent on payment of income tax of the MLAs, the remaining was for the ministers.
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.
It was during the earlier tenure (2002-2007) of Amarinder Singh that the system of the state government paying income tax of ministers and legislators was started. It continued during the 10 year rule (2007-2017) of the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government in the state.
Punjab is reeling under a financial debt of over Rs 2 lakh crore.