The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Industry pushes tax cuts instead of quota

New Delhi, July 14: India Inc. has asked the government not to force a job quota on it and, instead, sought tax sops to set up industry in Scheduled Caste- and tribal-dominated districts.

At a meeting between business captains like Sunil Bharti Mittal, V.N. Dhoot and K.K. Modi and top PMO officials led by principal secretary T.K.A. Nair, the industry leaders sought excise rebates and corporate tax breaks.

“We have asked for tax incentives to set up industry in 27 districts which boast of substantial Scheduled Caste or tribal population and which have basic infrastructure. These excise rebates and income-tax concessions could be in line with what is given in places like Uttarakhand,” Ficci secretary general Amit Mitra said.

Assocham president Dhoot proposed that the government levy an annual 1 per cent tax on corporate profits. “This money will go,” he said, “for the elementary education of SCs, STs and OBCs.”

The industry leaders also offered to promote entrepreneurship among Scheduled Castes and tribals but asked the government to step in by guaranteeing loans to SC/ST entrepreneurs. “This would be similar to loan guarantees in the US for coloured citizens,” Mitra said.

The three rival industry chambers — CII, Ficci and Assocham — made separate presentations on steps being taken on affirmative action and agreed to set up independent monitors.

“There was an agreement that an ombudsman with regional benches will be set up by each apex chamber to monitor compliance with the voluntary code of conduct by its members,” a release from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The PMO release said Ficci has agreed to soon evolve a code on affirmative action for its members, while CII and Assocham said such codes were already in place. “The discussion revolved around affirmative action and the government did not press for reservation,” CII president Mittal told reporters.

Dhoot said industry has begun work on improving the employability of SCs/STs. “We have created a corpus of Rs 5 crore” for upgrading skills of SCs/STs, he said.

The meeting on affirmative action came after demands from political parties that the private sector bring in a policy of reserving jobs for the weaker sections just as state-run companies do.

The chambers say they are already participating in a public-private partnership launched by the ministry of labour and employment to adopt around 300 ITIs (Indian Technical Institutes) this year and develop them as centres of excellence.

“It was agreed that the presidents of the chambers of industry will deliberate what further action needs to be initiated to make the programme of affirmative action more responsive,” a statement by the chambers said.

CII said 345 SC/ST members were being trained at seven centres to become entrepreneurs. FICCI announced four entrepreneurial development centres and said each of them will train 600 SC/ST members every year, while Assocham said 300 candidates have already benefited from its schemes.

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