Assocham seeks tax sops, infra status for port projects

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) has sought tax incentives, market-linked tariff rates and grant of infrastructure status to the port industry in the upcoming budget, for driving economic growth.

Specifically, the industry chamber has demanded reduction in customs duty on import of equipment for port projects and exemption of port projects from Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) and granting infrastructure status to the port industry.

In order to attract private investment in the port sector, Assocham has suggested the introduction of market-linked tariff rates and a public-private partnership (PPP) based-policy to encourage port development and management on a `build own operate and transfer' (BOOT) basis.

In order to propel export-oriented industries, the industry body suggested incentivising coastal special economic regions (SEZs) / investment regions / clusters along the lines of Chinese model of coastal development.

Besides, it said, in view of the high income and employment multipliers of the sector, a specialised policy for ports and tourism development should be formulated.

Other recommendations included the creation of a 'tidal energy' hub to reduce dependence on coal and to meet future energy requirements.

Besides, firms in the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and private security services have put forth their suggestions for the upcoming budget.

SMEs have demanded the creation of a favourable environment, including a reduction in the lending rates from the 19-20 per cent levels for bank loans and early payments.

Private security firms, on the other hand, proposed measures like increase in FDI limit, simplified taxation policy and categorisation of private security guards as skilled and highly-skilled workers under the Minimum Wage Act.

The government reduced foreign direct investment (FDI) limit from the earlier 100 per cent to 49 per cent currently by introducing Private Security Agencies Regulation Act (PSAR).