Karnataka IT Minister Priyank Kharge calls for concessions in import duties to help startups

Priyank Kharge urged industrialists and startup companies to start a social movement and put pressure on the Centre.

Karnataka IT Minister Priyank Kharge pitched for concessions in import duties on machines and equipment for ease of startups to grow as manufacturing industries. He said the state government was engaging with the centre to push for lesser duties on necessary equipment. The minister was responding to a question from the audience at the valedictory of the three-day Bengaluru Tech Summit on what Karnataka government can do to minimise duties for ease of start-ups to grow as manufacturing industries.

Karnataka IT Minister Priyank Kharge calls for concessions in import duties to help startups

Karnataka IT Minister Priyank Kharge

The audience member said the price of imported equipment doubles by the time it reaches India, which was a major road block for any industry to grow. Kharge said he would have been better positioned to answer the question as a union minister since the matter of concession in import duties on machines and equipment comes under the purview of the Central government. Citing examples of Samsung and Apple, he said these mobile phone majors assemble their products here.

If the government wants them to manufacture in India under its Make in India programme, it should give opportunities to allow cheaper import duties and give concession for a period of time, he said. "95 percent of Apple phone is imported. Give them (the companies) 10 years time, give them some subsidies and tell them that in 10 years time, 95 percent of the phone should be manufactured in India. So until I create that ecosystem I cannot push manufacturing," he said.

He, however, urged industrialists and startup companies to start a social movement and put pressure on the Centre. During the event, the government distributed cheques to the tune of Rs 20.03 crore to 100 start-ups its Elevate 100 programme. The government claimed Elevate 100 is India's first comprehensive entrepreneurship platform to fund startups, selected after four rounds in a two-month long rigorous contest.

Under Elevate 100, 38 infotech startups were sanctioned Rs 5.50 crore, 27 medical technology startups Rs 4.30 crore, 17 electronic system design and manufacturing startups were allotted Rs 3.6 crore, 12 biotech startups got Rs 2.80 crore. An amount of Rs 1.33 crore was earmarked for six animation, visual effects, gaming and comic sector startups, four agriculture startups were sanctioned Rs one crore, Rs 40 lakh for three clean-tech startups and four startups in the field of aerospace and aviation were sanctioned Rs 1.10 crore.

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