**MINISTERS DECIDE VOLUNTARILY TO DONATE NEXT 3 MONTHS’ SALARY TO CM’S COVID RELIEF FUND
Chandigarh, April 16 (Binder Singh Khudi Kalan)–With the state staring at revenue losses to the tune of Rs 22000 crore for FY2019-20, in view of the COVID-19 crisis, all Punjab Ministers on Thursday decided not to take their salaries for the next three months, even as the Chief Secretary appealed for all government employees to take voluntary cuts in the wages to help the state meet the unprecedented contingency.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Finance Sub-Committee, constituted recently under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to take stock of the fiscal implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown/curfew triggered by it, and find ways of generating review to compensate for the losses and meet the costs resulting from the current crisis.
Finance Minister Manpreet Badal informed the meeting that of the Rs 88000 crore revenue receipts estimated to be raised by the state for FY20, only Rs 66000 crore would now be generated in the light of the curfew/lockdown, which had brought all business, tax receipts etc to a standstill and also resulting in lower GST collections.
An official spokesperson said after the meeting that all the ministers in the state had voluntarily decided to donate their full salaries, for the next three months, to the CM’s Covid Relief Fund.
Later, on the directives of the Chief Minister, who was not in favour of imposing any salary cuts on employees, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh issued an appeal asking “all government employees, and all employees of PSUs, local bodies, Boards and corporations, to volunteer to contribute their pay and allowance to the government mission to combat COVID-19.” The Chief Secretary suggested that grade A& B employees should contribute 30% , grade C should contribute 20% and grade D should contribute 10% of their monthly emoluments for April, May and June 2020 to the CM’s Relief Fund to strengthen the government’s efforts to deal with the deadly pandemic and the huge losses resulting from the current crisis.
The meeting discussed several measures to mop up revenue in the prevailing situation, due to which the state was witnessing a massive financial crunch, that was likely to continue for another couple of quarters at least. The Chief Minister urged the committee members to look at innovative measures to tackle the crisis.
Manpreet informed the meeting that with all manufacturing/production almost completely shut, and no taxes/duties forthcoming on account of Transport/Excise/Stamp Duty etc, the state was set to lose out on Rs 22000 crore against revenue receipts. He said with GST collections to be much lower during the year and with the Centre yet to clear a significant amount of the state’s pending GST arrears, things will continue to worsen in the coming months, he warned. The state is also yet to receive any special financial package towards COVID relief from the Centre, he pointed out.
The sub-committee will meet again in a day or two to further discuss measures to generate more revenue and cut down expenses across departments to meet the costs for COVID related medical and relief operations, in addition to the routine government expenditure, said the spokesperson.
The chief minister meanwhile appreciated the efforts made by the government employees to contain the covid 19 epidemic in Punjab. He also thanked the general public for their cooperation in these difficult times.