Apex industry association of the Northeast, The Federation of Industry and Commerce of North Eastern Region (FINER), has moved both the centre and the state government in its persistent efforts to push for a better and focussed industrial policy as well as highlighting issues regarding GST and its impact on industrialisation in the region.

Addressing the media in Guwahati on June 23, FINER vice president Bajrang Lohia said that any dilution in benefits to industrial units under the old industrial policy will be detrimental to the cause of industries in the Northeast and that the benefits must be retained for industrialisation and investment in the region.

Over the past few weeks, FINER has submitted representations before Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, DoNER minister Jitendra Singh and minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju in New Delhi and discussed issues related to NEIIPP and GST.

The team requested for a focussed industrial policy for Northeast and sought greater clarity on how the central excise duty refund, currently eligible for industries set up pursuant to NEIIPP, would continue under the GST regime.

Under the NEIIPP 2007, the units that have come in the Northeast were promised 100 per cent refund of excise duty paid (i.e. net of Cenvat Credit).

With the announcement of GST, apparently the refunds would be restricted to 58 per cent by the central government. The fate of the balance 42 per cent of the refunds accruing is unknown.

Speaking on the occasion, ex vice chairman at FINER Amit Kumar Jain, said that the draft of the new industrial policy was ready but with the GST being rolled out next month, the policy might get a little delayed.

It transpired during the meetings FINER had with central ministers and bureaucrats that the new industrial policy being prepared will be for three years while the benefits to industrial units in the region will be for five years.

“The earlier policy had benefitted many industries in the remote areas of the region and investments by big companies have taken place,” Jain said.

While the Goods and Service Tax (GST) is slated for a July 1 implementation, some crucial issues regarding industries, and with especial reference to Assam and Northeast, are still unclear.

The issue of how the central excise duty refund, currently eligible for industries set up pursuant to the NEIPP policy would continue under the GST regime is still not clear as there was no mechanism for it.

In regard to GST, FINER had requested the centre that there should not be any dilution in refunds and that the promised incentives are not altered under the new regime.

FINER delegation comprising president Pabitra Buragohain and vice president Bajrang Lohia had on June 20 held discussions with Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and industry minister Chandra Mohan Patowary and handed over separate representations on excise refund and other high impact issues under the GST regime.

“Both ministers were positive and advised that they would request Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal to immediately write to the prime minister impressing upon these issues,” a statement by FINER said.

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