Guwahati: The Federation of Industry & Commerce of North Eastern Region (FINER) extended a hearty welcome to the Interim Budget 2024 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday.
The budget, which prioritizes youth and women’s empowerment, coupled with fiscal prudence and sustained capital expenditure, has garnered appreciation from various quarters, it said.
Key highlights of the budget include the lowering of the fiscal deficit target for FY 2024–25 to 5.1% of the GDP, demonstrating the government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation. The emphasis on MSME policy is particularly noteworthy, with a focus on providing training to MSMEs to enhance their global competitiveness.
In a bid to support startups, the budget maintains unchanged tax rates, including import duties. Additionally, certain benefits and tax exemptions for specific IFSC units, set to expire in March, have been extended until March 2025. A significant move towards fostering innovation is the creation of a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore, offering 50-year loans at low or nil interest rates. This initiative aims to encourage the private sector to scale up research and innovate, especially in the sunrise sectors.
Addressing the commitment to a ‘net-zero’ carbon footprint by 2070, the budget outlines measures such as viability gap funding for offshore wind energy, setting up gasification and liquefaction capacity, and mandatory blending of compressed biogas in transport and domestic use. Financial assistance for biomass aggregation machinery procurement is also part of the comprehensive plan.
The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Yojana have emerged as success stories, benefiting lakhs of farmers and generating significant employment.
However, while expressing appreciation for the budget, FINER is concerned by the absence of an industrial policy for the North Eastern Region (NER). Despite the expiration of the NEIDS policy in 2022, the formulation of a new industrial policy for the region appears to be taking longer than anticipated.
FINER urges swift action in the formulation of an industrial policy for NER, emphasizing the region’s unique needs and potential contributions to national development. The organization remains committed to collaborating with the government to ensure the inclusive growth and prosperity of the North Eastern Region.