Post December, investments dry up in State

Rituraj Borthakur
 GUWAHATI, April 30 – Investments in the State have dried up during the last four/ five months, apparently due to the uncertainty over continuation of the North East Industrial & Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP) which expired on March 31 last.

“Since the new government took over in May last year, there have been investments to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore. But since December last, investments have come to a standstill,” an official in the State’s industry department told The Assam Tribune.

The lull in the industry scenario came after a phase which the industry department dubs as never seen before ‘boom’.

“Around 150 medium and large industries, including groups like Patanjali, Dabur, etc., and some 2,000 small units started production last year. Of course, they were pre-December investments. Employment was created for around 30,000 youth during the year,” the official claimed.

The industry is ‘disappointed’ at the ‘lack of clarity on the part of the Central Government over extension of the NEIIPP’.

“The scene of late is really bad. There have been no new investments of late. Investors are disappointed at the situation. No concrete signal is coming from the government. The industry was very positive that the policy will be extended for one more term and by that time we will be able to sustain on our own,” industry sources said.

The sources pointed out that investments are linked to economic activity, employment and GDP. “There will be great losses in terms of employment, GDP, etc., if the situation remains unchanged in near future. Investment plans have been affected severely,” they pointed out.

The NEIIPP, extended for another term in 2007, was placed under suspension on December, 2014. Some of the reasons cited for suspension of the policy were lack of funds, misuse of the policy, etc. The suspension was partly lifted on November last year.

Many investors had worked overtime to get their production started before March 31 last – the expiry date of the NEIIPP – apparently with a view to be eligible for the incentives under the policy.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had taken up the matter while attending the Niti Aayog meeting yesterday in New Delhi, days after the think tank’s CEO Amitabh Kant held discussion with representatives from northeastern state governments and industry bodies in Guwahati over the issue.

While Assam Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary was ‘positive’ about the Central Government continuing the industrial policy in the region, there were indications that New Delhi might scrap some incentives like transport subsidies which were allegedly misused.

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