ON COLD CHAIN DEVELOPMENT
Given the huge gap in skilled manpower in the farm-to-fork model, it is important to look at the fruits the effort of skilling this sector will reap by exempting service tax on initiatives directed towards building awareness and skilling for the cold chain sector. Another move that will be a green signal for the cold chain industry is taking the outright exemption route for CENVAT waiver for cold chain equipment which will encourage manufacturers to use energy efficient equipment and therefore cut down on energy usage and costs. To boost our GDP, it is important to roll that out GST bill as early as possible as this will have an overall impact on the development front. Rationalization of direct taxes including clarity on the reduction of 30% to 25% over a period should be ushered in. Initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and Start up India will have a direct impact on manufacturing sector and structural reforms and can help develop a sustainable ecosystem for these industries to thrive. It is crucial that reforms that were initiated last year are supported throughout this year as well. While the government continues to tame food prices in the country, to prevent food losses at a long term period is a draconian task if long term measures are not taken immediately. One such measure that should be in place is the extension of NABARD fund towards food processing. Another is reforms especially in the infrastructure and food sector which could have a direct effect on SME and MSME which form the backbone of the country. These measures will provide impetus to the development of food processing sector on a cluster basis in the country to reduce wastage of agricultural produce and to create employment opportunities, especially in rural areas.