Claiming that the Centre’s area-based tax exemption scheme announced for states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand since January 2003 has already caused a significant decline in Punjab’s revenue besides precluding new industrial investments in the state, Suneet Kochhar, Punjab state council chairman, ASSOCHAM, said Saturday that the fresh extension to industrial package would push the state’s industries further down the dungeon.
“Punjab has already suffered for the central government’s industrial package to its neighboring states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Owing to this, several industries have relocated from Punjab to these states. Extending the benefit further to the hilly state would further pull investors out of the state. Not only will it discourage new units from coming to Punjab but the transposition of existing industrial units from Punjab to neighboring states, where tax concessions are available, would result in unemployment and loss of government revenue,” he said.
“All major industrial houses in Punjab ihave chosen to expand and diversify outside Punjab especially in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” he added. Attracted by tax concessions, he added, there has been a considerable decline in central excise collection in the state since 2003-04. No new industry worth the name has come up in Punjab as it is far more attractive to go to the neighboring states.
Kochhar said that a similar package must be given to Punjab including a special package for the border districts of Amritsar, Ferozepur and Tarn Taran, keeping in view that Punjab is a land- locked state with no accessibility to ports and the inherent disadvantages of lack of sufficient power, skilled labour and high cost of land.
“Punjab should be duly compensated by allowing a similar package to offset the colossal loss suffered due to the concessions already given to neighboring states. This would ensure that development in one state is not at the cost of the other because of a skewed concessions regime,” he added.