In its first cabinet meeting of the newly formed BJP-JJP government, the Haryana today decided to double the House Rent Allowance (HRA) admissible to ministers.

The Cabinet also took an in-principle decision to bring an amendment under the relevant section of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, allowing devolution of powers to the Gram Sabha to ban the sale of liquor within the local area of the Gram Panchayat.

The Cabinet, which met here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, decided to revise the ministers’ HRA from Rs 50,000 to Rs 80,000 plus Rs 20,000 to cover electricity and water charges by bringing an amendment in a rule of the Haryana Ministers Allowances Rules, 1972, an official statement in Chandigarh said.

Now, the ministers will get a total HRA of Rs 1 lakh per month, it added. The new rules will be called the Haryana Ministers Allowances (Amendment) Rules, 2019, it said. “All allowances admissible to ministers have been revised by the government from or after April 1, 2016 except House Rent Allowance which was last revised on June 2, 2011,” it said.

This was the first meeting of the Council of Ministers after Manohar Lal Khattar expanded his Cabinet, with ten members being sworn in on November 14. Khattar and his deputy, Dushyant Chautala had taken oath on October 27.

Furthermore, the Cabinet decided that a Gram Sabha may pass a resolution banning the opening of a liquor vend within the local area of the Gram Panchayat from April 1 next year if ten percent population is against liquor vends.

It also decided to extend the date of submission of the resolution in the office of Excise and Taxation Department to January 15 of the succeeding year instead of October 31.

It was further decided that the quorum of the Gram Sabha meeting for passing such a resolution shall be one-tenth of its members. No liquor vends will be allowed in Haryana villages from the next financial year without its panchayat’s approval, Chautala had said a week ago.

Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), which had independently contested the October 21 Haryana polls and later forged a post-poll alliance with the BJP after the party fell short of a simple majority, had promised that no liquor vends would be allowed in the village limits.

In another cabinet decision, the government has decided to create a dedicated new department of foreign cooperation to streamline and focus on various initiatives taken by the state government for the promotion of investment, generate employment for the youth and welfare of Non Resident Indians (NRIs)/Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) from the state.

The department will also work to enhance international cooperation with provinces of foreign countries and engagement with cities under the sister provinces and twin cities programmes of ministry of external affairs.

The new department will deal in formulation of country wise strategies for promotion of investment, employment in the state, education and skill development and promotion of Haryana’s culture and welfare of Haryana’s diaspora, participation in bilateral and multilateral fora with the objective of pursuing issues of interest to the state involving cooperation in public and private sector organizations.

Apart from this, the department will deal with participation in bilateral working groups with a view to promote the state’s interest in foreign countries in the area of trade and investment both in-bound and out-bound in consultation with external affairs ministry, the statement said.

The department will also maintain liaison with Indian missions abroad/external affairs ministry/foreign missions at New Delhi on matters pertaining to Haryana with regard to investment, employment, education, skill development, and culture and NRI/PIO affairs. Besides, it will also work for development of global country wise marketing and communication strategies to ensure strong links with Haryana’s diaspora.