R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Jan 25: Assam Government has requested the Central Government for an attractive new industrial policy for the North East region with additional financial package for rapid industrialization of the area. The State Government has also called for suitable policy for attracting foreign direct investment in the region.

The North East Industrial Development Scheme, 2017 has not been able to create much impact due to factors like upper ceiling of Rs five crore on capital investment incentive and ceiling of Rs 200 crore on total investments. As a result, during 2019, Assam accounted for only 0.73 percent of the large industrial units established in the country.

The Assam Government is of the view that an attractive package of fiscal incentives is urgently required to bring the backward North East region at par with the developed states of the country. Moreover, the Government of India came up with a new industrial policy for Jammu and Kashmir, which provides better incentives and subsidy to attract investors. Earlier also, all the policies for the region were extended to Jammu and Kashmir. The North East has a difficult terrain, communication problem and other logistic issues compared to Jammu region. Therefore, there is need for giving more incentives to attract investors to the region.

Assam Industries Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, who attended the recent 69th plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC), which was chaired by the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, also requested the Centre to come up with a suitable policy for attracting foreign direct investment as well as infrastructure support to accelerate trade with the neighbouring countries. He said that the North East region is surrounded by international border and serve as the gateway of India to the South East Asian countries and that is why, there is ample scope for developing trade ties between the region and the neighbouring countries.

The Minister said that the Assam Ease of Doing Business Act, 2016 was enacted with the aim of streamlining the regulatory structures and creating an investor friendly environment. He said that under the provisions of the Act, wide range of regulatory laws have been simplified to facilitate clearances and approvals online through a single window clearance system. Of 1.17 lakh online applications, over 90 percent have already been disposed off.

However, the North East states have very limited resource base and the NEC should provide financial assistance to the states of the region to develop software and other infrastructure for improving ease of doing business. The NEC should also engage professional consultants to help the states of the region for better planning and time bound implementation of the reforms, said Patowary.