July 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Punjab seeks special package
New Delhi, July 4
“Because of being a border state, SSI units in Punjab are precariously placed vis-a-vis their counterparts in other parts of the country. Recent tension on the borders has further put the SSI units on their toes, therefore, a special package is needed to compensate the entrepreneurs on the pattern of Jammu and Kashmir where the benefits of transport subsidy and income tax concession have been granted to the industrial units,” Punjab’s Minister of State for Industries and Commerce Ashwani Sekhri said speaking at the 47th meeting of the Small-Scale Industries Board here today.
Pointing out that sickness of SSI units was another area of concern, Mr Sekhri proposed that a BIFR like state-level institution with suitable statutory powers might be created to resolve this problem.
“The present institution of the State-Level Inter-Institutional Committee (SLIIC) does not have enough teeth to tackle the sickness problem,” he said.
Hailing the Centre for formulating schemes like special economic zones, assistance to state for infrastructure development for export, apparel parks and industrial cluster development scheme, the Punjab Industries and Commerce Minister urged that in view of the special circumstances in the border state of Punjab, the condition of contribution of the state government or executing agency to the extent of 25 to 50 per cent might be dispensed with and the executing agency might be allowed to participate with token contribution/equity.
Appreciating the provisions in the draft Small Enterprises Development Bill coined by the Centre for facilitating the institutional credit to small-scale units, he pleaded that the Government of India should assist states by providing special funds for financial assistance to SSUs and technology upgradation by way of interest subsidy.
The minister also demanded enhancement of budgetary allocations to the Small-Industrial Development Bank of India (SIDBI) so that it could increase the per unit investment under its credit guarantee scheme from the present level of about Rs 1 lakh.
On the state government’s part, the minister said it was in the process of formulating exclusive policies for the promotion of IT and IT-enabled services, biotechnology and food processing sectors.
“Apart from the IT park, the government also proposes to set up an Indian institute of information technology and biotechnology park along with a food park and agri-export zones at different locations in Punjab,” he said.
Later addressing a press conference, he said 40 per cent of the about 160,000 SSIs had become sick in the state and that their revival and the existence of the remaining units would depend on financial packages.
Meanwhile, 38 MLAs from Punjab, cutting across party line, have submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to take up strongly with the Centre the issue for providing a special package as provided to Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East to the three border districts Amristar, Ferozepore and Gurdaspur.
The Chief Minister would be forwarding the memorandum to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Finance Minister Jaswant Singh.
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