Thursday, May 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No freebies, no subsidies
Punjab promises investor-friendly industrial policy
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
There will be neither any freebies nor unlimited subsidies as Punjab promises to make its new industrial policy “less regulatory, more facilitating and investor friendly” to encourage openness, fairness and transparency. Besides, it will provide single window clearance of all proposals within 48 hours of their submission.

This was what the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, had to tell leaders of Punjab industry at an interactive session organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry here today.

Though the broad guidelines given at the session were mostly appreciated by the industrialists, they, too, used the opportunity to highlight their grievances, claiming that “industry was in shambles” and needed the “full support of the government for its revival and putting the state back on the road to rapid industrialisation.”

The points raised by the industrialists were understandably varied as from alleging that “truck unions were wreaking havoc with small-scale industry”, they not only talked about procedural difficulties in implementing the credit guarantee scheme, lack of incentives and poor infrastructure, but also wanted that existing industrial focal points should be declared special economic zones and “inspector raaj” should be done away with immediately.

Among those present at the day-long session were Mr Arun Kapur, President, PHDCCI; Mr Amarjit Goyal, Chairman, Punjab Committee of the PHDCCI; Mr S.L. Kapur and Mr N.S. Vasant (PHDCCI), Mr A.S. Chatha, Mr Mukul Joshi, Mr Sudhir Mittal, Mr Rakesh Singh, Mr Vishavjeet Khanna, Mr Satish Chandra, Ms Mini Mahajan, Mr Himmat Singh, Mr P.S. Aujla — all from Punjab Government; besides Mr Ashok Khanna, Mr Rajiv Bali, Mr Kewal Dhillon, Mr R.K. Saboo, Mr Sukhdev Raj, Dr K.C. Jain — all industrialists. Also present were Mr Lal Singh (Finance Minister), Mr Surinder Singla and Mr Gurjeet Singh Rana, both MLAs.

Mr Surinder Singla, who is also the Chairman of the High-Powered Finance Committee, said the state could ill-afford to continue with low productive jobs . Saying that instead of creating basic infrastructure for one lakh people earning Rs 50,000 a year, it would be ideal for the state to encourage creation of 25,000 high productive jobs where each one was earning as much as Rs 2 lakh a year. This would minimise expenditure on providing quality education, health care and other facilities to 25,000 persons against one lakh people.

The Punjab Chief Minister, who could not make it to the morning session because of his commitments elsewhere in the state, had a long interactive session with the PHDCCI members in the afternoon where he not only bared what the state government had to offer but insisted on the fullest cooperation from the industry so that besides reviving the state’s economy the problem of unemployment, too, could be tackled with industrialisation.

He talked about the Agriculture Commission under Dr Sardara Singh Johl and the Industrial Revival Committee under Mr Ajit Singh Chatha and said the state government was also waiting for a report from the State Disinvestment Commission.

The Chief Minister said offers had been received from NRIs for investments in Punjab. He referred to a Washington-based NRI who was willing to make a major investment in Punjab. The problem of power shortage and other bottlenecks, he said, would be resolved in the coming months.

Mr Y.S. Ratra said the new industrial policy would target at 10 per cent rate of growth and the focus of the new policy would be on agro-processing, setting up of agro-export zones, bio-tech and setting up of food parks.

Mr Ratra said the Union Government had cleared setting up of a knitwear park at Ludhiana at a cost of Rs 30 crore. The Park would be spread over an area of 50 acres. He also announced setting up of IIIT, IIT and IIM besides an institute of biotechnology as a part of the new industrial policy.

Mr Arun Kapur said unfortunately Punjab had lagged behind as international institutions had bypassed the state. The state government needed to formulate policies to develop world class infrastructure in industrial clusters to be developed on a road map for the next 10 years.

Mr Amarjit Goyal said Punjab industry was going through a recessionary phase as capital investment subsidies worth Rs 450 crore had not been paid back. He talked about industrial reforms for reviving industry.

Mr A.S. Chatha stressed the need for realigning of policies of the government so as to keep its commitments to entrepreneurs.

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