GTA requests centre for Gorkhaland financial development corporation

Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia and executive GTA Sabha member Roshan Giri with Arun Jaitley in Delhi
The GTA Sabha today requested the Centre to set up a Gorkhaland financial development corporation to provide soft loans and other incentives to prospective investors in the GTA area.

S.S. Ahluwalia, the Darjeeling BJP MP, along with a GTA delegation, today called on Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi and put forward the request.

Speaking over the phone from Delhi, Ahluwalia said: "There is a provision in the GTA memorandum of agreement which states that the GTA can take up issues of providing tax holidays. Accordingly, we have requested the finance minister to provide special incentives to investors in tourism, agro industry, IT and electronics industry and also grant subsidies and tax waivers for the region."

Clause 25 of the GTA agreement states: "The GTA, once established, will separately take up the issues relating to grant of incentives, subsidies, waiver of taxes and tariff and other benefits as appropriate to the region's backwardness, with the Central and state governments."

The GTA delegation included executive GTA Sabha member Roshan Giri, Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan, GTA secretary Don Bosco Lepcha and K.B. Yogi, the executive director of the GTA,

Ahluwalia said the Gorkhaland Financial Development Corporation was aimed at facilitating soft loans to investors.

"The corporation will play a role in providing soft loans as well as various grants to prospective investors in the GTA area. The topic was discussed at length with the finance minister and the response to the proposal has been good," said Ahluwalia.

Asked if the GTA had discussed the matter with the state government, Ahluwalia said: "This has already been agreed upon in the agreement which has been signed both by the Centre and the state government. We are sure that the Centre will discuss the matter with the state government."

Providing tax exemption and subsidies to investors on the lines of benefits extended to eight states of the North Eastern Council has been a long standing demand of the GTA.

Among the benefits enjoyed by the residents of the north eastern states is the exemption from paying income tax.

Ahluwalia said the GTA delegation, which had met Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani in Delhi yesterday with a demand to set up a central university in the hills, took up the matter with the finance department today.

"We sought financial support to set up the central university. The response to this demand has also been positive," said Ahluwalia.

A central university can be set up only by an act of the Parliament. Asked if there were any assurances on this front, Ahluwalia said: "We are expecting some announcement to be made during the budget session (of Parliament)."

The Telegraph

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