GUWAHATI, Nov 26 – Tea industry of the NE region today called for an integrated state-of-the-art tea park in Guwahati, besides upgradation of the existing centre of the Indian Institute of Plantation Management (IIPM) at Jorhat into a full fledged institute and upgradation of the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre to an international business hub of tea.
The Assam Valley Branch Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (AVBCCPA) made these demands while making a presentation on behalf of the tea industry before the Cabinet Secretary, who is here on a two-day tour of the region beginning today to review the vital projects.
At the same function, NE industries circles pressed for restoration of the status quo ante to North East Industrial Policy (NEIIPP) 2007 and lifting of the Restricted Area Permit System to promote free flow of tourists to the region.
They also called for removal of Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT), exemption of Income Tax on the incentives received and adequate budgetary provision for disbursement of incentives.
Special incentives for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in NEIIPP 2007, with a separate policy and a preferential price policy for this category of enterprises in the PSUs have also been called for by the industries circles.
They demanded a master plan for the NE railways. They resented that the railway projects of national importance declared for the region had failed to make any progress, while the wagon manufacturing unit announced for the region had no followup action.
Introduction of rail connectivity between Guwahati and Dhaka via Tripura, immediate completion of the double tracking of all railway lines, railway track electrification, have also been called for by the industries circles.
Completion of the road projects on a fast track basis, completion of ongoing NHAI 4 laning works and special emphasis on Barak Valley road communication were also sought for by them.
In matters of waterways, the industries circles referred to the Indo-Bangladesh agreement signed in January 2010 to improve trade and commerce and called for steps to provide access to sea ports of Bangladesh and Myanmar with stress on preparation of a comprehensive plan by the Union Government for using river routes to link the region with South East Asia.
In reference to the telecom connectivity of the region, they said that the region should be provided with a special gateway..
Tea: Tea industry also called for implementation of the SN Menon Committee recommendations to enhance its competitiveness and suggested that the government should share the social welfare cost of the industry on a 50:50 basis.
It called for schemes for the small tea growing sector, arguing that the sector contributes more than 20 per cent to the total tea produced in Assam. There are about one lakh small holdings in Assam, it said.
There should be a special Small Tea Growers’ Directorate in Assam and the implementation of Price Sharing Formula under Tea Marketing Control Order of Tea Board should be done for this sector, argued the tea industry.
Look East Policy: On the Look East Policy, the industries circles suggested that there should be a special economic desk at all Indian Missions in Southeast Asia and the Ministry of External Affairs should play its role more actively.
Federation of Industries for North East Region (FINER), North East Federation on International Trade (NEFIT) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) made presentations before the Cabinet Secretary, besides the AVBCCPA.