Northeastern states seek industrial growth package

Agartala/Guwahati, May 23 (IANS) Industry ministers of northeastern states have sought a time-bound package from the central government for development in the region, Tripura Industries Minister Jitendra Chowdhury said Sunday.

The demand was jointly raised by the northeast ministers at a meeting with union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma in Assam’s capital Guwahati Saturday.

‘The industry ministers of all the eight northeastern states besides demanding the time-bound package, requested the central government to expedite the current initiative to improve the connectivity between the region and southeast Asian countries,’ Chowdhury told reporters in Agartala after returning from Guwahati.

He said: ‘The northeast ministers also strongly demanded early implementation of the agreements finalised during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in January this year.’

‘Responding to the demands (of northeast ministers), the union minister announced that the central government would decided on these demands and call another such meeting within a month,’ Chowdhury said.

At the Guwahati meeting, Sharma said that the joint working group meeting held earlier this month between India and Bangladesh has agreed to sign an agreement for establishment of ‘border haats’ (border market).

‘The Government of India has proposed to spend Rs.5.86 billion for establishment of 14 Land Customs Stations (LCS) along the border with Bangladesh to boost trade,’ Sharma said.

According to the union minister, the Kaladan Multimodal Transit-cum-Transport project which envisages investment of Rs.5.48 billion would enhance connectivity between India and Myanmar and would link Haldia Port in Kolkata and Sittwe Port in Myanmar while passing through Mizoram.

The minister also highlighted the strategic importance of India-ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Trade in Goods Agreement which has become operational from January this year.

Referring to the Northeastern Industrial Investment and Promotion Policy, 2007, Sharma said: ‘A mix of fiscal measures such as tax incentives and fiscal subsidies has created a conducive environment for accelerating the industrial development of this region,’ he said.

Regarding the tea sector promotion in the northeast, the union minister informed that during the 11th Plan an outlay of Rs.2.30 billion has been earmarked with the Tea Board providing assistance for modernisation of plant and value addition of tea gardens.

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