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Centre to hold talks with NE States

By Kalyan Barooah
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NEW DELHI, July 7 � Faced with opposition from the north-eastern States, the Centre is likely to hold fresh round of consultations with the State governments and other stake holder before taking a final call on the proposed revised transport subsidy guidelines.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) sponsored move to revise the existing guidelines came up for approval at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday.

But a final decision was put off because of lack of a clear consensus on the issue. Instead, it was decided that the Central Government would hold another round of consultations with the North Eastern States and other stakeholders in a fresh attempt to get them on board. The Centre was faced with stiff opposition from the North Eastern States and industrial houses over the new guidelines drawn up by the DIPP.

Sources said at the CCEA meeting, Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Bijoy Krishna Handique pointed to the opposition in the region over the new guidelines. He suggested that a final decision may be deferred for at least a month, so that fresh round of consultations may be held with the Chief Ministers of the North Eastern States to get their view point.

The new seven-point revised guidelines have faced stiff opposition from trade bodies and industries in the region. The revised guidelines were drawn up by DIPP to prevent misuse of funds following complaints of gross irregularities.

In the Budget session of the Parliament, Union Minister of State for Finance, S.S. Palanimanickam had told the Parliament that the rules were amended to prevent misuse. He had also ruled out the possibility of restoring the provisions of the North East Industrial Investment Policy 2007.

The new policy guidelines among other measures, proposes to re-designate the rail head from Siliguri to New Guwahati, Tinsukia and Dimapur.

Sources said this has been opposed by the trade bodies because the three new rail heads proposed under the revised guidelines lacks proper infrastructure facilities and efficient system. They have pointed out that till substantial improvements takes place, the Siliguri rail head should continue.

The other proposal related to bench employment intensity in organised and unorganised sectors.

In keeping with the recommendations of the of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG�s) audit report on transport subsidy, the onus is now likely to be on the State Governments to oversee implementation of the scheme and prevent leakages, said sources.

The CAG in its report had identified a number of glaring irregularities in implementation of the transport subsidy scheme in the North East region, resulting in wastage of huge amounts of government funds.

The CAG recommended that DIPP should ensure that the State Governments fully comply with the norms. Periodic inspections of the units should be carried out and punitive action should be taken against anyone found to be filing false claims. The delegation of power to grant waiver in case of pre-registration should be reviewed.

To ensure authenticity, the DIPP should put in place a system to ensure cross verification of the subsidy claims with records of other departments like sales tax, transport, and excise. The DIPP should also prepare a time bound action plan to address deficiencies in the scheme of else the very purpose of the scheme would be defeated, the report said.

The CAG pointed out that way back in 2001, it found irregular disbursement of Rs 177.68 crore in states like Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, which constituted more than 70 percent of the total claims. But corrective steps were not taken in eight years.

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Centre to hold talks with NE States

NEW DELHI, July 7 � Faced with opposition from the north-eastern States, the Centre is likely to hold fresh round of consultations with the State governments and other stake holder before taking a final call on the proposed revised transport subsidy guidelines.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) sponsored move to revise the existing guidelines came up for approval at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday.

But a final decision was put off because of lack of a clear consensus on the issue. Instead, it was decided that the Central Government would hold another round of consultations with the North Eastern States and other stakeholders in a fresh attempt to get them on board. The Centre was faced with stiff opposition from the North Eastern States and industrial houses over the new guidelines drawn up by the DIPP.

Sources said at the CCEA meeting, Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Bijoy Krishna Handique pointed to the opposition in the region over the new guidelines. He suggested that a final decision may be deferred for at least a month, so that fresh round of consultations may be held with the Chief Ministers of the North Eastern States to get their view point.

The new seven-point revised guidelines have faced stiff opposition from trade bodies and industries in the region. The revised guidelines were drawn up by DIPP to prevent misuse of funds following complaints of gross irregularities.

In the Budget session of the Parliament, Union Minister of State for Finance, S.S. Palanimanickam had told the Parliament that the rules were amended to prevent misuse. He had also ruled out the possibility of restoring the provisions of the North East Industrial Investment Policy 2007.

The new policy guidelines among other measures, proposes to re-designate the rail head from Siliguri to New Guwahati, Tinsukia and Dimapur.

Sources said this has been opposed by the trade bodies because the three new rail heads proposed under the revised guidelines lacks proper infrastructure facilities and efficient system. They have pointed out that till substantial improvements takes place, the Siliguri rail head should continue.

The other proposal related to bench employment intensity in organised and unorganised sectors.

In keeping with the recommendations of the of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG�s) audit report on transport subsidy, the onus is now likely to be on the State Governments to oversee implementation of the scheme and prevent leakages, said sources.

The CAG in its report had identified a number of glaring irregularities in implementation of the transport subsidy scheme in the North East region, resulting in wastage of huge amounts of government funds.

The CAG recommended that DIPP should ensure that the State Governments fully comply with the norms. Periodic inspections of the units should be carried out and punitive action should be taken against anyone found to be filing false claims. The delegation of power to grant waiver in case of pre-registration should be reviewed.

To ensure authenticity, the DIPP should put in place a system to ensure cross verification of the subsidy claims with records of other departments like sales tax, transport, and excise. The DIPP should also prepare a time bound action plan to address deficiencies in the scheme of else the very purpose of the scheme would be defeated, the report said.

The CAG pointed out that way back in 2001, it found irregular disbursement of Rs 177.68 crore in states like Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, which constituted more than 70 percent of the total claims. But corrective steps were not taken in eight years.

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