Guwahati: Federation of Industry and Commerce of North Eastern Region (FINER), the apex industry association of Northeast India, has called for having an investment policy for NE to leapfrog the development in the region.

The industry association had submitted its views on Thursday for having an exclusive investment policy to NE MPs, which was also attended by Union Minister for Industry and Commerce Piyush Goyal.

The NE MPs Forum, headed by Union Law minister Kiren Rijiju, said there is a need for an exclusive North East Region policy to attract mega-investments in the region. 

FINER, represented by its vice-president Rajeev Agarwal, gave a detailed presentation on the necessity of a specific policy for the region. Through the presentation, it was conveyed why there is a need for an exclusive North East Region policy to attract mega-investment. 

“Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal appreciated the ideas put forward by the team and assured the members that a new policy would be introduced acknowledging the current issues of the region and suggestions made by the Members of Parliament,” the Forum said in a press statement.

It said there is a need for having an exclusive policy for NE as the cost of doing business is high and raw materials are imported and finished products are sold in regional markets with less opportunity for export or movement out of the region. Secondly, it is mostly a consumption economy with a small regional market with the low purchasing power of people and there is poor capital availability in the region.

The share of investment in the NER under North East Industrial and Investment Policy (NEIIPP) 2007 was 8.3% of the national share in 2017, while the percentage of the national share of the NER came down to 0.02% in 2019 under North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) 2017.

The association said they are looking for a stable policy period for 10 years and must be notified and effective from April 1, 2022. It should be exclusive to NorthEast.

“The policy benefits should be for 10 years. Incentives are based on volume of operations, which can only be ramped up gradually,” it said. Ceiling limit for Capital Investment Subsidy should be removed.

Besides new units, existing units undergoing expansion/modernization should also be eligible for incentives. The association said more inland container depots are needed, there is a need to attract investments in waterways and increased stakeholder interactions are required to make relevant policies and evolve guidelines accordingly.

It said NEIDS poses challenges like extremely rigid procedures for registration, inspection, pre-audit objection, etc. It should have been an open investment invitation like NEIIPP 2007 with further ease.

“A long  new negative list including Cement, Steel etc. dissuaded investments. Similar policy to NEIDS was extended in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, so investors preferred places close to the mainland to cover larger markets,” the association said in its presentation.

It said the headquarters of the Tea Board of India may be shifted to Guwahati as Assam is the largest producer of tea in the country. Attractive incentives for plantations under Rubber Board, Coir Board, Coconut Board, Spices Board and Coffee Board may be activated in the Northeast.

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