SHILLONG, Oct 27 - The recent opening of Chittagong port by Bangladesh Government for freight from North East would usher in an era of development for the region, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said here on Friday.
In his inaugural address at the two-day Shillong Edition of Young Leaders Connect (YLC), Sangma said, Bangladesh Government recently has finally allowed access of Indian freight from North East through its Chittagong port.
�This decision would give a huge boost towards development of the region,� he said at the Conclave with the theme �Made in North East� where youth leaders of NE today congregated to brainstorm on ways to develop the region further.
On September 17, Bangladesh Cabinet approved access to Chittagong and Mongla port for cargo from the region. The Shipping Secretary-level meeting of both the countries was held recently to further strengthen the agreement.
The ports would reduce the cargo distance from some of the major States with its counterparts in the more prosperous western end of the country and would be cost-beneficial.
Sangma, meanwhile, announced that a Food Processing conference would be held in Meghalaya later this year or earlier next year in which some of the major ASEAN and BIMSTEC countries would be invited apart from other States of the country.
He said that all the Northeastern States need to have a plan and also a policy in place to develop �Made in North East� products, adding, he would be discussing plans and polices with all stakeholders to develop the brand �Made in North East.�
Terming entrepreneurship as the key to economic progress of the region, the Chief Minister spoke at length about the various initiatives of the Meghalaya Government to support the innovative entrepreneurs of the State.
Assam MP, Gaurav Gogoi said one of the biggest hurdles for the entrepreneurs of the region is to get the requisite finance for their start-ups. Stating that despite the big ticket announcements by the Centre, the entrepreneurs are still struggling to get their projects funded.
Secretary, Ministry of DoNER, Naveen Verma, raised some fundamental hurdles in developing an entrepreneurial culture in the region. He said that many in the region are hesitant to open companies as they have to pay Income Tax.
�Since many in the region are exempted from Income Tax so long they are sole proprietors, they are therefore reluctant to expand their businesses and create a company because then they will have to pay Income Tax,� he said.
He suggested that NEDFI should be utilised more by the budding entrepreneurs as it offers loan upto Rs 2 crore on an annual interest of just 8 per cent. �The DoNER Ministry is going to conduct a start-up yatra soon in which officials would visit colleges and encourage youths to start their own businesses,� he informed.
The opening address was delivered by Bhaichung Bhutia, Chair YLC, who apprised the gathering that the YLC was started in 2011 with an �idea to bring all the young achievers of NE under one platform�.
Others who spoke at the inaugural session were Hekani Jakhalu, Chair YLC, Governing Council, YouthNet, and Larsing Ming Saiwan, Managing Director, Centre Point Group of Enterprise and Co-Chair of YLC-6.