50k crore package from Centre
Finally waking up to the reality that special status will not be granted to AP, the TDP government has decided to give up its campaign for seeking the same and instead plead for a financial package from the Centre amounting to nearly Rs 50,000 crore.
Sources said the public posturing by ministers that the fight for securing special status is still on is only playing to the gallery. In reality, TDP strategists have decided to press for a financial package worth Rs 50,000 crore in line with what Bihar is seeking.
The finance and planning departments are burning the midnight oil to prepare a comprehensive development package for AP which may be submitted to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley by chief minister Chandrababu Naidu after the latter's return from Turkey on August 8.
Top sources told TOI that Jaitley spoke to Naidu three days ago and explained to him the hurdles in the path for granting special status to AP and assured the CM of 'any assistance' in lieu of the 'status'. Similarly, senior BJP leaders are believed to have assured Union science and technology minister YS Chowdary that they would strive for a 'fat financial package' for AP.
Taking a cue from the Centre, the AP government has started preparing the package. It will have three parts. In the first part, incentives that would be granted only by the Centre are being listed. In the second part, financial assistance to state-specific projects that include metro rail, industrial corridor and petro-chemical corridor will figure. In the third part, reimbursement from the Centre for exemptions given by the state government to industries and special economic zones will be drawn up.
The development package will seek special incentives to industries that set up shop in 13 districts of AP. They include income tax exemption, investment rebate, rebate on capital gains and tax holiday for employment-generating sectors. Similarly, the state will seek reimbursement of tax exemptions granted to industries in the form or waiver of registration fee, subsidized electricity tariff, waiver of nala, advertising and professional taxes.
"About financial assistance, the government will request the Centre to fund three major projects in the state. Metro rail projects in Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, international airport at Bhogapuram, the Vizag-Chennai industrial corridor and a petro-chemical corridor near Kakinada," said a senior official in the government.
Apart from the industrial and petro corridors, the state government will ask the Centre to fund the development of a logistic hub, a Buddha tourist centre and a petroleum and natural gas university. It is estimated that these projects would accelerate the economic growth in all the 13 districts.
The AP government would also insist on a share in the royalty that is being paid by the petro and gas companies to the Centre for oil and gas exploration in the Krishna-Godavari Basin. Reliance Industries Limited, Cairn Limited, ONGC and GSPCL have been exploring the KG Basin for the last ten years and AP has not got any share in the royalty paid by these companies to the Centre. As part of the development package, AP wants that a certain percentage of royalty be paid to it so that it could develop infrastructure across the east coast.
"We need more jobs for the educated. Whatever the name, the outcome must be that more funds and incentives should be granted to AP. We have no complaint if it comes through a package and not by the granting of special status," said a senior minister.