BJP demands extension of tax sops for HP, Uttrakhand till 2013

New Delhi: Accusing the Centre of discriminating against the BJP-ruled states, the opposition party today demanded that tax exemptions given to Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand should be continued in line with the other hilly states.

"(The) Government should not discriminate against opposition-ruled states on political basis. When concessions were given to four hilly regions, including HP, Uttarakhand, North-East and Jammu and Kashmir and these states benefited. It needs to be augmented," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters.

The Centre did not extend the Industrial Promotion Package for Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, that provided excise and other duty concessions for new projects, beyond March 31, 2010, despite both the state Chief Ministers and state leaders of Congress party lobbying for its extension.

Meanwhile, the Himachal Pradesh government today decided to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to press the UPA regime for restoration of the special industrial package till 2013.

The state Cabinet met today and decided that an all-party delegation led by Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal would meet the Prime Minister to press for restoring the package.

Earlier in the week, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank with his Cabinet colleagues met the Prime Minister and demanded extension of the package up to 2020, if not possible than at least up to 2013.

Earlier, Congress leaders from Uttarakhand had met UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to demand extension of the tax concession package for the state.

The industrial promotion package for Jammu and Kashmir was extended up to 2012 and for North Eastern states up to 2017, but it was allowed to lapse for Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh on March 31, 2010.

The Centre had waived off excise duty on investments in these two states through a notification in 2003 till March 31, 2007. The exemption was later extended till March 31, 2010. However, there would be no extension to these exemption.

"As of now, there is no extension to these exemption notifications," spokesman of the Central Board of Excise and Customs said.

Investments in these two states were exempted from excise duty as a special case to push growth in the economically backward regions.

"The demand of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand is just and right... These states started developing when then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave them the industrial concession package. It has generated large scale employment and deserves to continue," Javadekar added.