The Government of Punjab on Tuesday announced that Chief Secretary of Punjab, Karan Avtar Singh, who was in charge of the post of the Financial Commissioner, Taxation would be relieved from his duties. This development comes after the state council of ministers raised objection against IAS Karan Avtar Singh suggesting that the liquor policy was on standstill because of the bureaucracy's 'conflict of interest'. A. Venu Prasad who is already the Principal Secretary of Water Resources, Mines & Geology, as well as the Chairman/MD of State Transmission Corporation, will take over the additional charge as the Financial Commissioner, Taxation.
Thanking him for taking this decision, Congress MLA Amarinder Singh Raja who had been one of the main persons to raise objection to the Chief Secretary expressed his gratitude to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
Dear @capt_amarinder ji,— Amarinder Singh Raja (@RajaBrar_INC) May 12, 2020
Thank you for immediate action on issue of Conflict of Interest in the case of Chief Secretary of Punjab and removing him as Financial Commissioner Excise & Taxation 🙏🏼
Punjab ministers and chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh on Saturday engaged in a heated argument at the pre-cabinet meeting over the revision of the excise policy. At the meeting, Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi allegedly opposed any relief for liquor vend owners in the excise policy under discussion. The chief secretary had allegedly made some "curt remarks" after Channi spoke. Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Channi had then walked out. It was reportedly followed by other ministers after some time. The development led to the postponement of the cabinet meeting scheduled for that day.
Liquor-vend owners in Punjab have been pressing for a waiver in license fee, demanding the fee to be taken on the basis of actual liquor sales as against the fixed quota system.
While the excise and taxation department has permitted liquor vends to open during curfew relaxation, it has also given permission to liquor contractors for home delivery keeping in mind social distancing amid the pandemic. Currently, there is no provision of home delivery of liquor in the Punjab Excise Act and the Excise Rules. Many liquor contractors, however, are not in favour of home delivery of liquor, saying it will increase their cost of operation and encourage smuggling.