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Why promote sale of liquor?

Mr S. S. Johl's article, "Taxes and subsidies" (November 22), reveals stunning facts. It is unfortunate that the Punjab government is promoting liquor consumption to earn more and more excise tax. It is happening when the whole of Punjab is struggling hard to save itself from the ruinous effects of intoxicants. As revealed in the article, the income so earned is almost channelled to the farm sector in the form of power subsidy, the major benefit of which goes to rich farmers. It is surprising that in 2007-08 the total excise tax collected from liquor sale was Rs 1,470 crore, and the contribution by the rich liquor consumers to it was only of Rs 120 crore. Thus, the major part of the tax was paid by the lower-middle class consumers.

Will the state government tell the people why it is promoting liquor consumption among the poor classes to earn taxes? Does it not know that the major beneficiaries of the subsidies are the rich farmers?

Sadly, as per the article, a majority of small and marginal farmers do not even have tubewells and they depend on diesel engines for irrigation. What is the Punjab government doing for them? Farmers of this category commit suicides.

The government must ensure the necessary help to this section to enable it to be productive and self-respecting. Subsidies may be necessary but it must be for the poor and marginalised sections of society. At the same time, the subsidies must help the beneficiaries to be productive.

Spend on education, health services, skill enhancement, quality infrastructure, research and employment generation. Do not bother about the interests of the rich only? Subsidies never give victory in elections. Moreover, money earned through the sale of liquor can never do good to the economy of the state.


PAU scientists

It is really commendable that the farm sector has bailed out the cash-strapped government (November 10). This sector has contributed Rs 4,300 crore to the state exchequer, facing a financial crunch of Rs 4,500 crore.

This hard cash is proposed to be spent on the development of assembly constituencies of the state. Not a bad proposal, but at the same time the government must take care of the retiree scientists of PAU who have been struggling for their regular pension benefits for many years.

It will be justified to pass even a small portion of the amount to these retiree scientists, who have sacrificed their life's prime period for evolving high-yielding crop varieties, which led to a record agricultural production in Punjab. Now it becomes the top priority of the government to implement the Johl Committee formula for a permanent solution to the PAU retirees' pension problem.

The farming community should also support the committee's suggestion for giving some benefit to the farmersí saviours. To sustain this level of production, farm technocrats need to be given a special focus/credit by the pay commission while recommending their pay scales and other benefits.

G.S. PANESAR (Dugri), Ludhiana

Biased opinion

This has reference to Mr D.S. Reen's letter, "Focus on job evaluation of officers", published on November 17 in The Tribune. The opinion seems to be very personal, more out of ignorance and bias than based on facts.

The author appears to have little idea about the selection criteria, the selection process, the training regimen, working conditions, and the promotion system in the defence forces.

The importance of foresight, planning, organisational abilities and the quality of "leading from the front", required in defense operations, cannot be ignored. The much-eulogised bureaucracy is known not to learn from past mistakes. No wonder, the much-extolled district administration has to seek the Army's help for maintaining law and order, flood control and even for saving a child's life who has fallen in a well.

It is unfortunate that the government of the day has taken so long to address the legitimate concerns of the defence forces. A mild displeasure by their chief was rather taken unkindly. Similarly, another relatively disciplined class being ignored is the university and college teachers.

It is high time the government looked after its defence forces more sensitively.

Subhash Vats, Chandigarh

Drive against MPLADS

It is heartening to learn that the espousal of the need for scrapping the MP's Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) by The Tribune has ultimately culminated in a bunch of petitions which are being heard by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan (November 22, 2008).

The scheme is draining away the taxpayers' hard-earned money without the MPs being subjected to any tangible accountability. A whopping sum of Rs 19,000 crore has been disbursed but misuse of the funds pointed out by the statutory bodies like the CAG has not been seriously looked at by Parliament.

It is a matter of great concern that politicians, irrespective of party affiliation, with the honourable exception of the present Lok Sabha Speaker, are not only in favour of the continuation of the scheme but also demand raising of the yearly limit of the funds under the scheme. Let us hope that the Constitution Bench will give its judgment in the best interests of the country.

Lajpat Rai Garg, Chandigarh



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