Addressing captains of industry at an interactive session organised today at Chandigarh by PHDCCI, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh promised early waiver of the debts of the farmers and assured them that his government would not backtrack on its word, and urged them not to resort to suicide as the higher-powered committee set up to work out the waiver modalities was on the job in right earnest.
The Chief Minister lamented that agriculture, despite being of critical importance, was not resulting in economic growth. Water was becoming a major problem for the entire country, he noted, stressing the need to resolve the issue at the national level through collective efforts.
Pointing out that his government had already put a stop on `Kurki’ to fulfill a major election promise, the Chief Minister said there was no question of going back on any of the commitments made to the people.
Captain cited the examples of Japan and Germany to express the optimism that Punjab would also get out of its current mess to once again become India’s topmost state. Revival of industry, he said, was critical for the restoration of the state’s growth, as that would also act as an impetus to attract new industry.
Promising his government’s full support in cutting red tape and addressing the woes of the industry, the Chief Minister said while he could not promise financial support in view of Punjab’s dire straits but he would ensure ease of doing business, backed by affordable power, as promised in the Congress poll manifesto. His government, said Amarinder, was still trying to ascertain the extent of the financial mess prevailing in the state and would soon bring out a white paper to expose the real status.
The Chief Minister underlined the need for collaborative efforts between the industry and the government and asserted that the new industrial policy, currently being drafted, would be implemented without delay, in all seriousness.
The Chief Minister agreed that the truck unions, with their monopoly, were a big problem for the industry and assured early resolution. The PHDCCI has demanded a legislation to regulate the operations of such unions, which it said were indulging in massive extortion and intimidation. It has also demanded that all illegal activities of these unions be made punishable to ensure that they operate as any other service providing company.
Captain also promised to look into other issues raised by the industry during the interactive session, including delay in VAT refund and environmental clearances, and support in reviving the closed cotton ginning mills in Malwa belt.
Mandi Gobindgarh industrialists wanted the state government’s help in seeking time extension from the Centre on the new ground water usage policy. Another issue raised during the session was the excessive levies imposed on Punjab cotton, which made import from other states a cheaper option. The Chief Minister assured the industry of elimination of all such levies to provide level playing field with other states.
Amarinder agreed to a suggestion to form a council of business houses and others to oversee implementation of the industrial policy.
Earlier, PHDCCI Punjab Committee Chairman R.S Sachdeva made a detailed presentation listing out the problems faced by the state’s beleaguered industry and urged the government to base all policies on mutual trust. He called for major labour, land, power, infrastructure and other necessary reforms to incentivise the development of industry in the state.
The PHDCCI, he said, was signing an MoU with the Agriculture Department for promotion of horticulture and aqua culture to bring agricultural growth back on track.
Power Minister Rana Gurjit Singh made it clear that the government was committed to implementing its promise of power at Rs. 5/KVAH, which the PHDCCI said should be frozen for the next five years.
PPCC president Sunil Jakhar underlined the need to revive the existing industries by making the business environment more conducive to industrial development. Jakhar said politicians were the biggest hindrance to industrial growth, but this obstacle had now been removed as the Chief Minister was a true leader and statesman and the only person equipped to bring the state out of its current mess. The PPCC president called for a more responsive approach, with faster decision-making, by the bureaucracy, and added that there was no place for red tapeism in the current environment.