Northeast Advisory Council welcomes Budget

Reacting to the Union Budget, Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman, FICCI North East Advisory Council said, “We welcome the focus
Northeast Advisory Council welcomes Budget

GUWAHATI: Reacting to the Union Budget, Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman, FICCI North East Advisory Council said, "We welcome the focus on infrastructure, particularly the decision to set up a Development Financial Institution (DFI) with a projected lending portfolio of Rs. 5 lakh crore and the move to enable debt financing by foreign portfolio investors. This has the potential to give a much needed boost to the infrastructure sector, we hope that the proposed infrastructure pipeline will include major infrastructure requirements of the Northeast like Inland Water Transport, rail connectivity and Air Connectivity to remote locations."

Over the last few years FICCI has made several recommendations for improvement of connectivity in the region through Inland Water Transport, Rail, road, and Air Connectivity. While substantial progress has been achieved in road and Air connectivity, Inland Water Transport and Rail connectivity need a renewed focus.

Barthakur welcomed the decision regarding creation of a "National Monetization Pipeline" for brown field infrastructure assets, he said, "apart from raising funds for infrastructure projects, this will also help improve operational efficiency by involving the private sector."

Barthakur also welcomed the enhancement of budgetary outlay for health and wellbeing by 137% to over 2.23 lakh crore. "This will give a much needed boost to health care delivery in the country and I hope many remote parts of the North East will benefit from this. "While I am happy that a provision has been made for addressing the issue of Air Pollution in urban areas I would like to reiterate the need for linking development to our natural assets like Inland Waterways" he said.

The FICCI release also said, despite ending the year with a 9.5% deficit, the fact that no significant new taxes have been announced, shows that the Government has been prudent and is focused on growth "in the realm of the financial sector there were many reform-oriented measures that were announced. The decision to privatize two public sector banks and one public sector insurance company underlines government's commitment to limit its presence even in the strategic sectors and give a larger role to be played by the private sector. To further release capital for growth and strengthen the banking system, FICCI for long has been advocating the need to set up a National Asset Management Company."

It is heartening to see this idea moving forward with the government's announcement to set up an Asset Reconstruction and Management Company. "This will help banks to unlock stuck capital and use it for more productive purposes. This measures along with the decision to recapitalize Public Sector Banks to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore will prepare banks well to meet the credit requirements of a growing economy," the release said.

With innovation and R&D being the key differentiator for determining growth, there was a need to incentivize R&D in the country. "While FICCI appreciates the government's decision to set up a National Research Foundation with an allocation of Rs 50,000 crore, we reiterate the request to bring back weighted deduction of 200% for investments made by private sector towards innovation and R&D," he said.

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