‘Govt hopeful of attracting investment as several big capitalists have evinced interest’

With the state government having initiated a move to woo investment in various sectors through investor meets across the nation, the government hopes to attain a major success. The move initiated in the second year of the BJP government promises big returns though investors feel the long-standing problems were yet to find a solution. Will it hit the investment prospects? Pratibha Chauhan finds out in an interaction with Industries Minister Bikram Thakur.

Since GST has created a uniform tax structure all over the country, do you think it will be possible to attract investors to Himachal, which suffers from a locational disadvantage?

Himachal offers several advantages and we are talking about luring investment not merely in the industrial sector, but other areas such as tourism, education, hydel power, food processing, agriculture and horticulture among others, which, too, offer a vast scope. We are targeting an investment of around Rs 85,000 crore in these sectors. A slew of measures such as the allotment of land in industrial areas will be taken on 50 per cent of prevailing rates, 50 per cent discount on the stamp duty and relaxation in floor area ratio norms as well as the change of land use charges have been introduced to facilitate investors.

Investors in Himachal suffer from high freight charges, which are almost 40 per cent higher than elsewhere. This issue has been represented before the government, but nothing has been done to resolve this issue. Your take?

Your observation is absolutely right and there is no doubt that this issue has been bothering the industry. The state government is seized of the matter and we will be holding talks with the transport unions to resolve the issue amicably.

The system of seeking clearances for setting up a new industrial unit are very tedious and time consuming, How does the government propose to make it speedier ?

An online portal  has been created, which is reviewed on a bi-monthly basis by the Chief Minister himself and an effort is being made to provide speedier clearances within a time-bound manner. A grievance handling mechanism within time limits has also been introduced to curtail delays. An overall score of 93.85 per cent has been attained in the reform evidence score in the ease of doing business initiative by the state government indicating our commitment to facilitate investors.

The state government has not given its share of 42 per cent subsidy to those investors, who are availing the incentives of Central financial package after the GST was introduced. Why do you think new industry will come when incentives of old investors has not been paid?

The matter is before the state government and we are examining its various aspects as various industry associations have made representations to the state government.

What are the key plus points of Himachal that your government is projecting to attract investors in the investor meets?

The open and progressive policies of our state government including the Single Window Clearance, continuous infrastructure development, investment in the upgrade of human capital and social welfare, availability of ample land through land banks has made our state the ideal destination for investment.

How hopeful are you of attracting investment after the first round of the investor meet in the south?

The government is hopeful of attracting good investment as several big investors have evinced interest.  In order to give impetus to this campaign, a letter has been written to the Prime Minister by the Chief Minister to grant some financial incentives to the state to attract investment and we may soon meet the PM to press for this demand. The industry was receiving incentives under some components such as the Central Capital Investment Incentive for Access to Credit (CCIIAC) and Central Comprehensive Insurance Incentive (CCII).

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