The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Insult to injured industry

Calcutta, March 20: Budget 2003-04 has hardly made any fresh proposal for industry although growth in the sector remained insignificant.

On the contrary, finance minister Asim Dasgupta has withdrawn the Rs 100-crore corpus allocated in last year’s budget for rehabilitation of the closed units in the state.

Dasgupta has provided a paltry Rs 62 crore in the plan budget and an additional fund of Rs 30 crore in the non-plan outlay for the sector.

Quoting figures from different sources, Dasgupta admitted in his budget speech that there had hardly been any major investment in large-scale industries in the state despite the schemes announced by the government last year.

“Special mention needs to be made of the fact that of the 658 industrial units which commenced production during the period 1991-2002, nearly 70 per cent are medium-scale units in which the investment per unit was less than Rs 10 crore,” the budget says.

Of the 537 downstream units of the much-vaunted Haldia Petrochemicals, 34 belong to the medium-scale sector while 499 are in the small-scale slot. In the information technology sector, too, nearly 80 per cent of the units fall in the small-scale category, it added.

Opposition leader in the Assembly Pankaj Banerjee has dubbed the budget as unproductive and non-industry friendly. The Trinamul Congress leader added that the budget would lead to a financial disaster for a state already caught in the debt trap.

“There will be a tax noose round the neck of the people. If the garnered funds had been invested in productive purposes, we would not have had anything to complain about. But this is not the case which is unfortunate,” a state-based industrialist said.

The finance minister mentioned in his speech that the small and medium entrepreneur will occupy an important position in the development of industries just as small farmers have held an important position in the development of agriculture in the state.

“This sounds good, but without large industries, how can you think of growth of small industries' This is simply ridiculous,” the industrialist said.

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