Guwahati, Sept. 24: The Tarun Gogoi cabinet tonight gave its nod to a new industrial policy, one that provides for an investor-friendly, single-window system.
The policy, which will take effect on October 1, is expected to save investors the trouble of running from one department to another to get their proposals cleared.
A cabinet minister said after the meeting tonight that under the single-window system envisaged in the new industrial policy, a committee headed by the chief secretary would evaluate the feasibility of proposals submitted by potential investors and monitor how the departments concerned process these. “An investor will no longer be required to approach the line departments to get the required clearance,” he said.
The policy makes a case for promoting industries that use mineral resources and natural gas. Agro-based and white goods industries that offer employment opportunities and require relatively less investment will be accorded priority, too.
A host of financial incentives have been announced to attract investment and achieve the targeted growth rate of 8 per cent. To help investors market their products, the new policy provides for subsidised advertisements in government-recognised media.
Apart from promotion of traditional industries like handloom and sericulture, the policy lays stress on encouraging women and physically-challenged entrepreneurs, export-oriented units and food-processing industries.
A senior official of the industry department said the policy would be made compatible with the value-added tax (VAT) regime, as and when it comes into force in the state. He said the major changes would be restricted to the incentives and sales tax regulations.
The previous industrial policy took effect on April 1, 1997, and lapsed on March 31 last year. Its term was extended by six months, though the draft of the new policy was ready. The policy was to be tabled during the Assembly session in August, but the process was postponed to incorporate changes that would make it VAT-compatible.
In another important decision tonight, the cabinet approved the appointment of several legislators as chairpersons of public sector units. The chief minister initiated the move to finalise the list, realising that the Congress legislators aspiring for these posts were becoming restive.
Gogoi, who will make a fortnightlong trip to the US from September 28, was under pressure to “rehabilitate” these legislators as either ministers or heads of PSUs.
AICC president Sonia Gandhi had approved a list 20 legislators and PCC leaders for appointment as chairpersons of PSUs, but it is not known whether all of them made the cut tonight.
A group of 37 Congress legislators, led by Chandan Sarkar, had submitted a memorandum to the chief minister on August 8, demanding berths in the ministry or the posts of chairpersons of PSUs. The petition triggered a crisis of sorts in the ruling party, coming as it did in the wake of the Congress government’s ouster in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh.
The decision to appoint legislators and PCC leaders as chairpersons of PSUs could have a bearing on the effectiveness of the new industrial policy in the light of the fact that a status report on state-owned enterprises had attributed their huge accumulated losses to lack of professional management.
Assam has 49 PSUs, which have incurred losses amounting to Rs 4,000 crore. The committee on fiscal reforms, headed by former chief secretary H.. Das, recommended to the government that all chairpersons-cum-managing directors should be professionals appointed by the Public Enterprise Selection Board.
The figures of actual losses incurred by these enterprises could be higher as accounts of 26 PSUs are in arrears for periods ranging from one year to 19 years, as on September last year.