Infrastructure Status For Convention Centres

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    Recently, The Ministry of Finance granted ‘Infrastructure’ status for exhibition and convention centres to ease bank financing for such projects.

    Objectives and Need

    • India doesn’t have large convention centres or single halls with capacities to hold 7,000 to 10,000 people, unlike countries like Thailand that is a major global MICE destination
      • Becoming a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) destination can generate significant revenue with several global companies active in India but it will take time to become a preferred destination.
        • MICE  is essentially a version of business tourism that draws domestic and international tourists to a destination.

    ‘Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre

    • ‘Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre is included in the Harmonised Master List of Infrastructure sub-sectors by insertion of a new item in the category of Social and Commercial Infrastructure. 
    • However, the benefits available as ‘infrastructure’ projects would only be available for projects with a minimum built-up floor area of 1,00,000 square metres of exclusive exhibition space or convention space or both combined.
      • This includes primary facilities such as exhibition centres, convention halls, auditoriums, plenary halls, business centres, meeting halls etc.
    • As of now, the major projects underway in the sector are backed by the government – the International Exhibition-cum-Convention Centres at Dwarka as well as Pragati Maidan in the capital.

    Significance

    • Inclusion in the list implies access to concessional funds, promotion of projects and continuity of construction for the specified sub-sectors.
    • The infrastructure tag no longer involves significant tax breaks but would help such projects get easier financing from banks.

    Harmonised Master List 

    • The Harmonized Master list approved by the cabinet committee on infrastructure has five main sectors and 29 infra subsectors.
    • The five sectors include transport, energy, water sanitation, communication and social and commercial infrastructure.
    • The infra tag allows certain benefits including access to easier borrowings overseas, the ability to raise funds through tax-free bonds, tax concessions, and access to dedicated lenders such as IIFCL, and the debt funds.
    • In 2020, the government added affordable rental housing projects to the list of sectors recognised as infrastructure.

    Source:TH