Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu today announced to bring a new and "potent" policy to increase the state government's annual revenue from outdoor advertising to at least Rs 300 crore. The Local Bodies minister also blamed the previous SAD- BJP government for causing "revenue leakage" by framing a "toothless" law in this regard. Besides, he claimed that the state had suffered a loss of Rs 2,000 crore from the cable business. Sidhu also proposed to levy a token amount of entertainment tax to keep a check on the "cable mafia", which he alleged had "proliferated under the previous dispensation". Punjab is earning a meagre amount of Rs 25 crore annually from outdoor advertising and hoardings in 164 cities of the state as compared to Rs 200 crore being earned by neighbouring Haryana from its municipal areas, he claimed. Sidhu also hit out at the SAD for allegedly "looting" the state by facilitating individuals in the outdoor advertising and the cable businesses. "Out of the Rs 25 crore , Rs 10 crore comes from Mohali, Rs 2.5 crore from Zirakpur. Ludhiana alone has the potential to generate income of Rs 150 crore per annum," he said. Sidhu accused the SAD-BJP government of framing laws pertaining to outdoor advertising and hoardings which catered to vested interests. "After an inquiry, following a complaint, I came to know that the government cannot levy penalty or make seizure despite violation of the advertisement law. "They (the previous government) made toothless laws which facilitated only individuals," he said. Sidhu said, "The aim was to raise the annual revenue from Rs 25 crore to Rs 300 crore from advertisement in municipal areas." He said his department would propose laws on outdoor advertising and cable businesses which are "potent and will fix accountability". "An advertisement policy will be brought in consultation with experts in order to increase revenue by 10 times to Rs 300 crore annually in the state," Sidhu said. Citing an example of "blatant violation of the law", the minister claimed that a particular company was given "undue" advantage in allotting advertisement contract on 82 bus shelters in Ludhiana and that it had resulted in a loss of Rs 100 crore to the state exchequer. Sidhu said his department will also come out with a cable law, proposing entertainment tax, to check the "mafia". "I have already submitted a proposal to the chief minister in which a token tax of Rs 2 to Rs 3 is needed to be levied.
We might have a token tax which will make people (cable mafia) accountable... And bring them under the purview of law," he said. The state had witnessed a revenue loss of Rs 2,000 crore because of the "cable mafia", he claimed. Sidhu had earlier accused the previous SAD-BJP regime of sheltering a private multi-system operator in cable business.
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