Pradeep Kumar Panda

The State Cabinet headed by CM Naveen Patnaik has approved Odisha IT Policy 2022. This will help the Odisha Economy to be a USD 1 trillion economy in future.

The new policy will also help the State secure a prominent position on the global map as a preferred IT outsourcing destination propelling employment opportunities and inclusive growth.

The State government has offered specific incentives for IT parks. As announced in the policy, 25% of fixed capital investment will be provided as capital subsidy limited to Rs 20 crores and 15% of the cost of developing a solar power plant subject to a maximum of Rs 25 lakh will be reimbursed.

Greenfield IT Parks will be eligible for 100% reimbursement of stamp duty/registration fee/conversion fee. Similarly, a subsidy of 30% of the fixed capital investment in buildings and infrastructure, excluding the cost of land subject to a maximum of Rs 3 crore will be given to eligible IT units.

Companies/Units investing in the area of Artificial Intelligence (Al), Cyber Security, Extended Reality (XR), Automation, Blockchain, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (loT), Machine Learning (ML), Clean-tech, Edu-tech, Agri-Tech, Health-tech and other emerging technologies will be eligible for additional incentive.

The eligible IT units will be entitled to get an interest subsidy at 5% per annum on term loans availed from recognised financial institutions and banks, subject to a ceiling of maximum Rs 10 crore per year for a period of five years from the date of commencement of commercial operation.

The State government has also exempted electricity duty and electrical inspection fee for five years. There will be reimbursement of electricity tariff at 30% for three years capped at Rs 35 lakh per unit.

IT units with up to 40 employees will get subsidies on the rental of incubation space for a maximum of three years based on their incubation space.

Reimbursement up to Rs 1400 per seat per month for co-working space in designated IT Parks and Incubation Centers approved by the Government and Rs 1000 per seat per month in notified private IT Park/lT Space has been allowed.

Eligible IT units hiring buildings on rent for operating their centres will be entitled for a subsidy of 75% of the actual rent paid or Rs 20 per sq ft per month whichever is lower. An additional 25% lease rental limited to Rs 5 lakh per annum will be provided to women, SC-ST and entrepreneurs with disability.

The government has approved 100% exemption of stamp duty on first transaction and 50% exemption on second transaction on lease/sale agreement of land or built-up space. The eligible units will be entitled to get 100% reimbursement of conversion fee and registration fee for the first transaction.

Reimbursement of 100% state component of GST (SGST) for a period of five years in Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) area and for a period of seven years in non-BDA area subject to 100% of their fixed capital investment has been allowed under the policy.

Recruitment assistance will be provided at Rs 10,000 per newly recruited employee at executive level who are domiciles of Odisha with a maximum limit of Rs 10 lakh per unit for a period of three years. There is also a provision of additional Rs 1000 per employing women, SC/ST and physically challenged employees.

As per the policy, 100% reimbursement of the expenditure incurred towards contribution for ESI and EPF of employees of IT units who are domicile of Odisha up to Rs 5 crore per annum will be provided for a period of three years. For investment in non-BDA areas, reimbursement would be up to Rs 7 crore.

IT units will get reimbursement at 50% of internet bandwidth charges per annum subject to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh per annum for a period of two years.

An assistance of Rs 20 lakh for establishment and maintenance of Biju Innovation Lab will be provided for five years. In order to promote the Centre of Excellence (CoE) in engineering colleges and educational institutes in Odisha, various incentives will be provided in the form of marketing assistance, quality certification, patent registration, bandwidth connectivity assistance, interest and investment subsidy.

The Odisha IT Policy 2022 will be in operation for five years from the date of its Gazette Notification or till it is substituted by another policy.

The State government has also amended Odisha Mobile Towers, OFC (Optical Fibre Cable) and related Telecom Infrastructure Policy, 2017 to promote telecommunication network and encourage establishment of modern telecom infrastructure to provide high speed internet at village level.

The 2017 policy does not have a ‘deemed approval’ clause, which results in delay in decision on grant of permission on erection of towers, micro communication equipment, in-building solutions and renders it non-aligned with the Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016 that has made it mandatory to grant permission  for underground and overhead telegraph infrastructure within 60 days of the application.

The amendment in the policy aims to incorporate a deemed approval clause in the Odisha Policy, 2017 as per the Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016 and also the amendments made in the rules in 2019.

(Writer is an economist based in New Delhi. Views are personal)
Tags: #TelecomInfrastructurePolicy #ArtificialIntelligence #ITparks #CyberSecurity #OdishaITPolicy2022