Chandigarh: Punjab government's decision to cut down the number of gazetted holidays has unleashed a political storm with the Opposition parties strongly criticising the move and linking it to ''dictatorship''.
According to reports, the Punjab government led by Captain Amarinder Singh has declared 18 gazetted holidays and 39 restricted holidays for the calendar year 2018.
The Punjab Government employees will now be eligible to avail 5 restricted holidays, whereas earlier they could avail only 2 restricted holidays.
The Congress government believes that its move to cut the number of gazetted holidays to half of what was sanctioned by the previous SAD-BJP government will give a much-needed push to its functioning.
Disclosing this, an official spokesman of Punjab Government said that Government of Punjab has decided to reduce the number of gazetted holidays for the calendar year 2018 so as to enable better public service to the citizens and also to ensure more teaching days in educational institutions.
“With this reform, the State Government offices will remain open for 21 more days in 2018 as compared to the previous year 2017. At the same time, Government employees will be able to avail more restricted holidays than previously, in keeping with their preferences”, he added.
Divulging further, he said that the State Government has tried to strike a balance between its commitment to better public service, more teaching days in educational institutions on the one hand and the requirements of its employees to avail of holidays on the other.
“Now, the number of gazetted holidays in Punjab (only 18) are comparable to the number of holidays by Government of India, which has declared 17 gazetted holidays for the calendar year 2018”, he added.
The decision has already received Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s approval, and the notification is expected to be issued any time now by the State Personnel Department.
The move is in sync with the decision taken by the Congress Government during its previous term, from 2002-2007.
It can be mentioned here that for the year 2017 Government of Punjab had declared 37 gazetted holidays and 20 Restricted Holidays.
Employees were allowed 2 restricted holidays.
Welcoming the move, Congress MLA Dr Rajkumar Verka said, ''The decision taken by the Congress government is a big step towards good governance. No one should oppose it.''
Sukhchain Singh Khaira, president, Secretariat Employees Association, said that Punjab government's coffers are running dry and there aren't enough funds to pay salaries and pensions of its employees. The state government should first end rampant corruption and only then should it think of reducing the holidays.
Demanding an immediate rollback of the decision, Khaira said the move won't help in improving the administration and the government should take care of the public sentiment.
The Uttar Pradesh government led by Yogi Adityanath had earlier cancelled 15 public holidays marking the birth or death anniversary of eminent personalities.