Political advisers, secretaries attached to CM excluded from income tax exemption. After the opposition of Congress MLAs, the Punjab government has reduced the salary of political advisers and secretaries attached with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. It is pertinent to mention that the political advisors of CM were getting more salary than Cabinet Ministers and MLAs, thus the legislators also demanded higher wages.The reason behind difference in the salary was income tax exemption. Sources informed that Finance Department, issued directions to withdraw income tax exemption and recommended that the amount of tax exempted in last six months is recovered from the salaries of political advisors and secretaries. CM’s advisery team comprises of eight people including Senior Adviser Lt Col. (retd.) TS Shergill, Media Adviser Raveen Thukral, Advisor Bharatinder Singh Chahal, Financial Adviser VK Garg, Political Secretary Captain Sandeep Sandhu, Major Amardeep Singh Natt, Karandeep Sekhon and Press Secretary Vimal Sumbly.The senior advisor has a cabinet rank. Advisor’s salary is Rs 1.5 lakh per month and enjoys the position of Minister of State, while the political and media secretary’s salary is Rs 1.25 lakh per month. Each adviser and secretary costs the government upto Rs 3 lakh per month. While the salary of the minister is Rs 1.10 lakh per month and salary of MLA including fix allowances is Rs 84,000 per month. The Congress MLAs raised their voice against the salary discrimination with CM in closed door meetings and controversy erupted as the issue of cancellation of income tax exemption in the Salary, popped up.Income tax exemption was only for Chief Minister, ministers and legislators but on the recommendation of CM’s Office, advisors and secretaries were also included in income tax exemption. According to sources, the General Administration had sought opinion from Finance Department which stated that there is no provision in the law to exempt the political advisors and secretaries from income tax. In its recommendations, the Finance Department has said that the government bears the income tax of Ministers and MLAs, on its own and advisors and secretaries do not fall in this category.
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