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Industry chambers hail Budget’s focus on development projects in NE

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Guwahati, Feb 1: Industry chambers in the Northeast have welcomed the Union Budget presented by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday, terming it a pragmatic budget that focuses on employment generation, healthcare, infrastructure, medium small and micro enterprises, technology and financial inclusion.

“We particularly welcome the focus on infrastructure and social development projects through the PM’s Development Initiative for the Northeast,” Ranjit Barthakur, chairman FICCI, Northeast Advisory Council, said.

Barthakur said the initiative would help bridge critical infrastructure gaps in remote areas and provide livelihood options to people in the region.

“We hope the initial outlay of Rs 1500 crore for the scheme would be suitably enhanced as per requirement,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North-East (PM-DevINE) scheme will be launched to fund infrastructure and social development projects in the region and implemented through the North-Eastern Council.

Terming the focus on energy transition and climate change “a step in the right direction”, Barthakur said “Northeast India is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots of the country, and the region could benefit immensely from the decision to bring about legislative changes to promote agro forestry and private forestry.”

“The decision to provide financial support to farmers belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, for agroforestry, is also very welcome. We will be requesting the government to allow the tea industry also to take advantage of the proposed legislative changes and financial support,” he added.

Hailing the Union Budget, Pabitra Buragohain, president of the Federation of Industry and Commerce of North Eastern Region (FINER), said that the Union finance minister had presented a capital expenditure-led budget aimed at reviving the COVID-hit economy and creation of more jobs over the next two decades.

“To help small businesses recover from the pandemic, the Budget proposed to extend the emergency loans scheme to MSMEs till March 2023 and expand its guarantee cover by Rs 50,000 crore to a total cover worth Rs 5 lakh crore. This scheme will be crucial in ensuring that MSMEs impacted by intermittent lockdowns in states get funding to stay afloat,” Buragohain said.

The FINER president hoped that the new North East Investment and Industrial scheme, expected to be announced by March this year, would spur investment in the region, which has nose-dived from 8.3 percent in 2017 to 0.02 percent in 2019.

FINER past president R.S Joshi said, “The Union Budget is an all-inclusive fiscal booster dose which would not only enable the Indian economy to bounce back on a high growth trajectory but also pave the way for next 25 years with a big digital push seen in the budget.”

“The government had managed the pandemic-hit economy so much so as to achieve remarkable GDP growth of 9.2 percent in the current year with above 8 percent growth expected next year,” Joshi said.

Tea Association of India (TAI) secretary general, P.K Bhattacharjee said that the Union Budget “projects the vision of the government by stressing macro-economic level growth with a micro-economic level all-inclusive welfare focus and promoting digital economy with emphasis on infrastructural growth.”

“Although it will be difficult to pinpoint any tea industry-centric provisions, yet the tea industry is looking forward to “Ease of Doing Business” that should liberate the industry from multiple statutory obligations,” Bhattacharjee said.

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