The council of ministers in Punjab on Monday approved the New Industrial and Business Development Policy 2017, paving way for fixing of industrial power tariff at Rs 5 per unit and a one-time settlement of industrial loans. The tariff at present is up to Rs 8 per unit.The creation of a Rs 100 crore fund to promote start-up culture, establishment of a skills university and industry-specific skill development centres, are other highlights of this policy.All skill training schemes in the state will be brought under one agency, the Punjab Skill Development Mission, an official spokesperson said.The cabinet meeting, chaired by chief Minister Cap Amarinder Singh, gave its nod to the salient features of the policy, including the provision regarding five-year fixed power tariff for existing and new industries, he said.Besides incentives for expansion and upgrade of existing units, the new policy envisages a one-time settlement for loans taken from the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), the Punjab Financial Corporation (PFC) and the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Ltd (PAIC). According to the official spokesperson, the One Time Settlement (OTS) Policy, 2017, would help in releasing blocked industrial investments and assets and put these to productive use so as to revive the existing industries in Punjab. It will also result in reducing the burden of litigation, he said.Power Minister Rana Gurjit Singh abstained from the discussion on the one-time settlement of loans as his company would also benefit from the move, the spokesperson said.Industrial infrastructure development is a priority and the provisions provide for development of border districts, extreme border zone and ‘kandi’ areas, he added. The CM proposed hiking incentives for the industry in border areas from 125% to 140%, the official said.The new policy has been prepared in consultation with all stakeholders, including industrial associations and the departments concerned. Aimed at promoting ease of doing business, the policy is founded on the eight strategic pillars of infrastructure, power, MSME, startup and entrepreneurship, skill development, ease of doing business, fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, stakeholder engagement and policy implementation unit and sector specific strategies, the official said.It envisages establishment of 10 technology centres, 10 common facility centres and 10 clusters for development in the first phase. Besides, the state would set up MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) facilitation councils at Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Mohali and Patiala to provide remedial measures.Single-window facility to existing enterprises at the district level and special relief for sick MSME units are other features. These will involve deferment of recovery of arrears of electricity duty, power bills, house tax and water charges for a period of five years.These units shall also be exempted from minimum charges for electric connection during closure period and incentive of exemption from electricity duty for two years shall also be provided, the official said.The state would also provide a one-time special relief package for BIFR-registered/declared sick large units by reimbursement of 75% of net VAT/net SGST for a period of five years for border districts and 50 per cent of net VAT/net SGST for a period of five years for other districts, and deferment of recovery of arrears of electricity duty, power bills, house tax and water charges for a period of five years, he added. These units shall be exempted from minimum charges for electric connection during closure period and incentive of exemption from electricity duty for three years shall also be provided.Development of 14 new industrial parks and standardisation of all estate management policies and procedures have also been provided for in the industry. It also provides for establishment of exhibition and convention centres in Mohali, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar in the first phase, the spokesperson said.