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Kerala Chambers hail Budget

Our Bureau

Kochi , Feb. 10

THE trade and industry in the State has generally welcomed the Kerala Budget 2006-07, saying that it contains various developmental proposals with special focus on agriculture and rural development.

Describing the budget as a progressive one, Mr M.K. Koshy, Chairman, CII Kerala State Council, said the Government's initiatives to encourage sectors such as agriculture and food processing, medical tourism, coir, cashew, IT and biotechnology would help create growth momentum in these sectors.

He said the 90 new projects in small-scale enterprises, as part of the Prathyasha Project, are laudable and would certainly encourage the State's small scale enterprise sector. Major boost to the agro-based and traditional sectors such as coir, rice, vanilla and cashew announced in the budget would help farmers in these traditional sectors.

Mr N. Sreekumar, President of the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, pointed out that on the whole the budget looks like a pre-election budget but lacks direction for the all round development of the industrial sector in the State.

However, he said the allocation of Rs 50 crore for the proposed Agriculture Resurgent Fund would help to revive the agriculture and plantation sector. The facility for the industries to get credit of input tax for imparting through the DEPB scheme and Advanced License Scheme is a welcome proposal, he said. The Finance Minister has proposed to exempt agriculture income tax for all plantation crops except companies taking into consideration of the crisis situation prevailing in this sector is a welcome proposal, he said.

However, the Chamber President said the fund of Rs 5 crore allocated for the development of Kochi is too little for a city, which requires huge funding in its infrastructure.

Welcoming the budget, Mr Balagopala B. Pai, President of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the huge amount of public debt of Rs 5,678.69 crore and its servicing charges as well as the sizeable expenditure of a recurring nature on unproductive areas would be a hindrance to the sustained growth of the State.

The budget does not contain any worthwhile proposal for the growth of manufacturing sector excluding IT and Tourism, he said.

Though the budget had several welcome proposals, it is silent on the resource mobilisation for various projects, Mr John K. Paul, President of the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said. It is disappointing that there are no proposals to rectify the defects in the Kerala Value Added Tax or to stop harassment and corruption at the check posts.

However, the provision of computerisation of commercial taxes offices and exemption of small hotels from VAT and also proposals for development of Alappuzha port is welcome, he added.

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