HP CM demands restoration of excise duty cuts to industry
New Delhi, July 3 (UNI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today sought restoration of excise duty concessions for new industrial units coming up in the state post-March 31, 2007 on a par with neighbouring Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeastern region.
The Chief Minister, who was commenting on the draft approach paper for the Eleventh Plan circulated by the Planning Commission, said the excise sops were sought to be cut from this date for Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal on the ground that they did not have a locational disadvantage in terms of connectivity.
However, he said the premise was not based on facts. Himachal Pradesh did not have broad gauge rail connectivity and was also not connected by air.
Mr Virbhadra Singh further pointed out that only after the announcement of tax sops had the state witnessed a spurt in industrial investment. Also, neighbouring states had not lost out in terms of flight of industry as was commonly alleged.
Mr Virbhadra Singh was among six Northern Chief Ministers who were meeting here as part of the Regional Consultations on the Approach Paper to the Eleventh Plan (2007-11).
On the related issue of Special Economic Zones, he cited ''locational, topographical and connectivity disadvantage'' that the state suffered from due to which it should be given preference in setting up SEZs to make it economically sustainable for the investors.
On the performance of the state economy, Mr Virbhadra Singh said the estimates for the Tenth Plan point to an average annual growth rate of 7.5 per cent for Himachal Pradesh -- slightly higher than the national estimate of 7 per cent.
He said attaining the projected growth target of 8.5 per cent in the Eleventh Plan would not pose a formidable challenge provided international crude prices were stable and agricultural targets met.
Admitting that raising farm output to 3.9 per cent per annum growth against the past decadal average of 1.5 per cent per annum was a major challenge, Mr Virbhadra Singh said a higher growth rate was feasible only through large-scale diversification of the farm sector by exploiting niche advantage of certain soil for high-value crops and by managing water resources more efficiently.
Himachal Pradesh, he noted, was one of the few states in the country to have decided not to supply electricity free to the farm sector and also had a conscious programme to draw down on farm subsidies.
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