Taking into consideration the lack of industrialisation in the state, Assam has asked the Centre to provide “certain exemptions” in the tax structure to make the state investor-friendly.
The state has also requested the Centre not to club Assam with other developed states while formulating economic policies. Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the government would exploit the special provisions for Himalayan states under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime and ask the Centre to provide special concessions to the state for attracting private investments.
Currently, industries in north eastern states enjoy several tax concessions under the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP). However, registration of new units under the policy had been kept under suspension since December 2014. NEIIPP is an extension of the previous North East Investment Policy (NEIP), the ten-year policy that was announced in 1997 by the Central Government. NEIIPP was announced in 2007 and is due to end in 2017.
“As the north-east, along with Jammu and Kashmir, falls under special category of states, there must be ways of providing certain exemptions to investors in the tax structure so that they are attracted to come here and set up businesses, ignoring the perceived socio-political condition of the state,” Sonowal said. The chief minister said he would soon write a letter to the Prime Minister regarding the matter, so that Assam’s case is considered differently by the Centre.
While chairing a meeting of the industry department, Sonowal said to attract investors to the state the tax regime has to be adopted working around the new GST regime. “We must send a signal to industrialists and prospective investors that the government is very serious in providing a business-friendly environment in the state for business and commerce to flourish.”
With the new BJP-led government bringing ‘Assam Ease of Doing Business’ act soon after taking over charge in Dispur, Sonowal said a positive environement has been created in the state to welcome investors. He also said Patanjali, Dabur and Mahindra and Mahindra have evinced interests to invest in the state. With regard to the proposed Patanjali plant, Sonowal said the investment would a “big one”. He said tea sector was a prime example of how business houses could make profit and contribute to state’s economy even during adverse socio-political environment.
Expressing concern at the state’s 23rd position in the ease of doing business index, Sonowal set the October 31st deadline for 11 key departments of the government namely – revenue, finance, urban development, law and judiciary, forest and environment, taxation, pollution control, industry and commerce, fire and emergency, labour and employment, power to achieve 100 per cent ease of doing business compliance from its present 72 per cent. Sonowal said that there would be a single window for granting necessary permissions to business houses so that transparency and swiftness can be maintained in facilitating a business friendly environment.
He also said that a ‘Land Bank’ has been mooted to be set up in the state so that lands can be leased to prospective investors and also lands lying unused by defunct public enterprises would be taken back by the government so that it could be placed under Land Bank.