Ravneet Bittu meets Sitharaman, seeks special incentive for Punjab’s border districts

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New Delhi, Jul 11 (PTI) Minister of State for Railways and Food Processing Ravneet Singh Bittu met Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday and sought special incentives for industry and farmers of Punjab’s border districts following the pattern of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Taking up the issues of Punjab at a marathon meeting held late Wednesday night, the Hon’ble Minister urged the Hon’ble Finance Minister to consider the demands of Punjab on priority being a border state,” a press statement issued from Bittu’s office said.

The minister demanded special incentives for the border districts of Punjab namely Amritsar, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran to boost investment as well as employment opportunities in line with Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern states, the statement added.

“The Hon’ble Minister informed the FM that the flagship Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme (CLCSS) should be reintroduced with a threshold limit of 1,00,00.000, as there is a lack of effective schemes supporting MSMEs in achieving technological advancements,” the release said.

“In light of the recent increase in capital costs, it is desired that the limit under the Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) be increased to 1,00,00,000,” it added.

According to Bittu’s office, the minister also suggested to Sitharaman an amendment in freight subsidy criteria to cover the MSMEs in Punjab.

“The FM was apprised of the fact that transportation costs to deliver goods to the nearest port in India is much higher for land-locked states such as Punjab as compared to the coastal states. The cost also depends on the distance of the nearest port from the respective state.” the release said.

“Many other states like J&K, Himachal Pradesh, parts of Uttarakhand and West Bengal are enjoying transport subsidies ranging from 50 to 90 per cent,” it added.

According to the minister’s office, the issue of reduction of GST on bicycles to 5% as on e-bicycles was also discussed in the meeting.

“The Hon’ble Minister demanded to commence the operations of the Refrigeration Unit near Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, Amritsar to boost export of food items from Punjab. The unit, installed years ago, is not yet functional. It would benefit Punjab and neighboring states as well,” the release said.

The minister also pushed for “Farmer Entrepreneur Initiative” and special incentives on Agro- based MSME industry along with food processing industry to generate employment in the border districts, it added.

“The Hon’ble Minister suggested a lower rate of interest, collateral free loans and relaxation in CGST. He also sought waiver for farmers with land holdings up to 5 acres, soil testing labs for Majha, Doaba and Malwa regions of Punjab and special package for R&D at Punjab Agriculture University Ludhiana,” the release said.

“The Hon’ble Finance Minister heard him with patience and assured that Punjab will get a very good representation in the coming budget,” it added. PTI JP AS AS