WHILE the Punjab government is exulting about the massive turnout at the non-resident Indians’ conference in Chandigarh and Jalandhar, NRI investors are still looking for a secure and red-tape free scenario. Over the years, successive governments (Congress and SAD) have failed to curb bureaucratic hurdles to ensure a favourable investment environment for NRIs. The government had announced setting up of an empowered committee to look into fast clearance of projects but it remains to be seen whether projects like the investment of Rs 1,500-crore in a few seven-star hotels across Punjab by Indian-American hotelier, CEO of Hampshire Hotels and Resorts, Sant Singh Chatwal will actually take place.
The state government has four more years to go and this gives NRIs like Mr Chatwal, Dr Ruby Dhalla, MP, Brampton, Springdale, Ontario and Sukh Dhaliwal, House of Commons member for Newton, North Delta, Ontario hope that their projects will not be put under the scanner by other political party, as has happened in the case of projects, passed by the former Congress government.
In his speech, Mr Chatwal said he was interested to invest in the state as long as he got co-operation from the Punjab government. He will observe closely and if all goes well, will invest Rs 1,500-2,000 crore.
“The fact is that amendment of many outdated laws is not a state subject. This puts NRIs in a tough spot and they keep hovering around the courts for years. No NRI will feel safe to invest until and unless the process is fast. This has to be done at the Central government level,” said Mr Dhaliwal.
Taking cognisance of the complaints by the NRIs, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal announced the setting up of an empowered committee look into the expeditious clearances. This would be headed by the chief secretary. Commissioner NRI Affairs and the secretaries of the concerned departments would be members.
Mr Badal added that another high powered committee, with NRI representatives as members, would be constituted to look after the problems and difficulties faced by the Punjabi diaspora.
Police stations for NRIs soon
Parkash Singh Badal revealed the state’s plans of setting up NRI police stations in six districts of Punjab, namely Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Moga, Nawanshahr and Ludhiana, reports Our Bureau from Chandigarh. Having a jurisdiction of an entire district, all police stations will have a superintendent of police (SP) NRI Affairs in charge, reporting to DIG- NRI Affairs. In other districts, SP headquarter will handle NRI cases. This is the first time that the state government has made an elaborate set up for tacking NRI related problems. While all police stations will have a web-enabled hot line, all revenue records will be put on website such that NRIs can get details of their properties from anywhere across the world. The state government has approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court to help create a special fast track court for NRI related problems. The number of such courts could subsequently go up depending on the need. Deputy Commissioners from all the 20 districts in Punjab will prepare lists of NRI cases for their respective district and the existing backlog will be cleared within six months.