The Haryana government is considering to impose a variable “COVID cess” on liquor to support the areas or institutions adversely hit by the pandemic, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said on Sunday. Haryana has been suffering monthly revenue losses of Rs 6,000 crore due to the coronoavirus-triggered lockdown.
“The government is considering new COVID cess so that those areas or those institutions which have been adversely hit by the pandemic and need support can be helped,” Chautala told a news conference here on Sunday.
Asked how much cess the government is contemplating to impose, he said, “Discussions are on. Every product is different, fixed cess is not possible, so it will depend on product and quantity. The cess will be variable”.
The deputy chief minister indicated that the cess could be anywhere between Rs 2-20.
Chautala, who also holds the portfolios of Excise, Industry and Commerce Departments, said no decision has yet been taken on when to open the liquor vends.
He, however, said suggestions including from media have been sought so that steps are taken accordingly.
It will have to be ensured that there is no crowding and proper social distancing is maintained at the vends, as and when these are opened, he said.
The state government has also sought report from deputy commissioners on whether vends should be opened or not as COVID-19 situation varies from district to district, he said.
To a question, Chautala said stock of warehouses involved in liquor distribution was checked on three different occasions in the past over a month and irregularities were found in 53 of these and FIRs were registered and fines imposed.
On giving relaxations to industry in accordance with the Centre’s guidelines, he said from April 20 onwards they have been easing out restrictions, barring those units which are in containment zones, so that economic activity can be resumed.
“From May 4-10 and from May 11-18, we will give more relaxation to industry, but with more strictness than even what MHA guidelines say so that our industry is revived on one hand, while on the other we are able to check coronavirus infections too on the other,” he said.
In the IT sector, workforce with 33 per cent in red zone, 53 pc in orange and 100 pc in green zone will be permitted while in second phase (May 11-18) it will be 50 pc, 75 pc and 100 pc, respectively.
In rural area, for the red zone, industry will be given permission to open with 33 per cent workforce and with 50 per cent for in-situ where units can retain workforce at places of work. Likewise, industry will be given permission to open with 75 per cent and 100 per cent in orange and green zones, respectively.
For e-commerce, for the period between May 11-18, only essential goods will be allowed in red zone, Chautala said.
Shops in rural areas have been opened, he said, while adding in the urban areas, in non-containment zones, especially those in orange and green zones, deputy commissioners have been authorized to decide whether to open shops by odd-even system (on the basis of shop numbers) .
With MSME sector being adversely hit, Chautala said the Haryana government will be extending a financial support of nearly Rs 250 crore to them.
On current crop procurement, he said 41.23 lakh metric tonne (LMT) wheat and 3.62 LMT mustard has been procured.
From June 1-30, sunflower will also be procured at the rate of Rs 5,650 per metric tonne, he said.
He said despite the challenges of labour shortage and other difficulties in view of the lockdown, procurement was going on smoothly.
“I am hopeful that we will touch 75 lakh MT target of wheat procurement in next 10 days,” he said.
On Congress’ criticizing the state government for hiking VAT rate on diesel and petrol and increasing bus fares, he said while people are not complaining as they fully know the present crisis situation, the Opposition is doing politics over the issue.
Hitting out at Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, who has been critical of the Manohar Lal Khattar government on various issues, Chautala said, “Why did he not raise voice when the Congress government in Rajasthan revised diesel and petrol ratss on three occasions in recent times, why does he not dub it as Jazia Tax there?”
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