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Bills passed after healthy debate 

Chandigarh, November 29

In a welcome break with the past, the last sitting of the three-day Assembly session today saw the treasury and opposition benches having a constructive debate before passing 13 key Bills. It was a refreshing change from the one-sided affair during previous sessions when Bills were passed within minutes, usually in the absence of the Opposition.Akali MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa raised an objection to the amendments in Sections 19, 26 and 27 of The Punjab Cooperative Societies (second amendment) Bill, 2017, saying that these were aimed at replacing elected representatives in cooperative societies. Another SAD MLA, Gurpartap Singh Wadala, wanted an assurance from the government that the profitable societies would not be scrapped.In reply, Rural Development Minister Tript Rajinder Bajwa said the purpose of the amendments was to provide an opportunity to the societies’ members and creditors to appeal against the orders of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and to end litigation.During the discussion on The Punjab Excise (second amendment) Bill, 2017, NK Sharma (SAD) said contractors were opening more liquor vends than those sanctioned, while referring to a Congress MLA who has a stake in the liquor business. Congress MLAs Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Amit Vij and Kuljit Nagra joined the issue by stating that liquor vends were being opened at “wrong” locations to make more profit. Alleging that liquor contractors had an army of policemen to harass people in the name of checking, they sought amendments to curb the menace.Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the amendment was meant to discourage liquor smuggling from outside the state and rationalising the liquor rates. “We aim to bring the down the number of liquor vends and the liquor quota by 25 per cent over the next five years,” he said.The discussion on the Punjab School Education Board (Amendment) Bill, 2017, saw Leader of the Opposition Sukhpal Khaira alleging that the amendments were intended to adjust favourites against a tailor-made eligibility criterion. Accusing the bureaucracy of doing nothing good for the public, he said an educationist should be given the charge of chairman and secretary of the board. Education Minister Aruna Chaudhary said the government had only revised the experience eligibility for the post of chairman from 10 years to 15 as IAS or PCS officer. The secretary will be an IAS/PCS officer not below the rank of Additional Secretary.When the Punjab State Farmers and Farm Workers’ Commission Bill was tabled, AAP MLA Kanwar Sandhu said it was an attempt to burden the exchequer by giving the rank of Cabinet minister to the commission chairperson. “Is this an attempt to curtail the portfolio of the Agriculture Minister?” he asked. AAP MLA Aman Arora stated that instead of wasting public money on the commission, it would be better if the money was paid to the farmers. Tript Rajinder Bajwa said the commission’s aim was to assist and advise the government on the welfare of farmers and labourers.The extended discussion saw Congress and AAP MLAs taking potshots at Speaker Rana KP Singh for running through the agenda items and not allowing them enough time to debate on the Bills.

Bill Passed

  • Punjab Cooperative Societies (Second Amendment) Bill
  • Punjab Excise (Second Amendment) Bill
  • Punjab School Education Board (Amendment) Bill
  • Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets (Third Amendment) Bill
  • Punjab State Farmers and Farm Workers Commission Bill
  • Punjab State Council for Agricultural Education Bill
  • Punjab Rural Development (Amendment) Bill
  • Amritsar Walled City (Recognised Usage) Amendment Bill
  • Punjab Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Property Bill
  • Punjab Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill
  • Punjab Land Improvement Scheme (Amendment) Bill
  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Technical University (Second Amendment) Bill
  • Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Second Amendment Bill

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