PUNJAB is in the process of shaping a new, investor-friendly industrial policy. Consultants appointed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) have been doing the rounds meeting industrialists and representatives of various chambers of commerce and industry in the state.
The industry and commerce department had taken UNIDO’s help to prepare the draft for the new industrial policy. Likewise, national consultants for UNIDO have been meeting industry representatives to take stock of the situation as well as ascertain their views. Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia, the national consultant for the UNIDO report on Punjab’s industrial sector has, along with two other experts, held a series of meetings with industry representatives in Bathinda, Mansa and Ferozepur districts.
According to Punjab industry and commerce secretary AR Talwar, national consultants have visited Ludhiana, Mohali Chandigarh and Bathinda. Leading industrialists held parleys with the consultants with a view to review the industrial sector, look at ways to promote industry in Punjab and overcome the major bottlenecks. Industry had been demanding that Punjab be accorded special incentives like in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, uninterrupted power supply and hassle-free procedures to increase the production capacities. Industry has also been demanding implementation of the loans promised by the Union government for the small scale industry without any collateral security.
The consultants will soon visit Amritsar and Jalandhar districts to meet industrialists and discuss what needs to be done to promote industry and attract investments to the state. The report by the consultants will form the basis of the proposed new industrial policy to be announced by the Punjab government sometime in the beginning of 2008.
Initially, an interim report will prepared. This is proposed to be discussed at a seminar where all stakeholders, politicians and representatives from industry and banks will air their views. After a comprehensive study, the final report will be prepared and submitted to the Punjab Cabinet. This exercise is expected to be completed by the end of December 2007. The Cabinet will then incorporate its suggestions and approve the new policy.
Punjab has also urged UNIDO to conduct a study of the economy of the state, focus on schemes for Punjab for central funding and then suggest a framework for improving the rate of industrial growth. The state’s manufacturing sectors’ growth has been tardy and is much below the national average. This way, said Mr Talwar, “we will have a strong case to demand for concessions and higher allocations for projects from the government of India”.
The concessions and tax holiday available to the neighbouring hill states till March 31, 2,010 has been bothering Punjab and already there are indications of flight of industry to these states. Punjab’s industrialists have also been looking at setting up their new ventures in central India.
Punjab is also expected to come out with its new agro industrial policy. This policy will give the impetus to marketing channels and value-added agro produce from the state will then get a higher berth on retail shelves.
The proposed new agro industrial policy will be a separate document but may form part of the new industrial policy being prepared with the assistance of UNIDO. Punjab has till now been focusing on marketing basic agricultural commodities. There has been little or no attention on marketing of value-added agro produce. Now, with major players dabbling in the “farm-to-fork” initiative with the aim of marketing value-added farm produce at retail stores, the Badal government is considering a separate agro policy