Attari/Amritsar: Terming the twenty-first century as ‘century of investment', union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh said foreign direct investment (FDI) should be allowed from Pakistan by removing it from the negative list of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) which in turn would pave for Indian companies to invest in Pakistan.
Jairam Ramesh was here to hold a review meeting at Attari Land Customs Station on Friday. He said Pakistan as well as Bangladesh were on the negative list of FEMA but in the recent past, government had issued a notification allowing FDI from Bangladesh through Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). ‘‘I am strongly in favour of removing Pakistan from the negative list of FEMA,'' he said while adding that there shouldn't be any
fears about investment coming from Pakistan. ‘‘If there are apprehensions that Dawood Ibrahim would invest in India, his investments have already come into the country,'' he said. However, he said the FDI could be allowed from Pakistan on case-to-case basis subject to security approval.
On denial of MFN status to India by Pakistan, the minister said Pakistan government had fears that once MFN status was granted to India, its goods would sweep through the Pakistani markets giving serious setback to local industry. ‘‘The fear is the same as the one we have about China, that if we open our markets for them, they would dump their goods into Indian markets,'' he said, adding that India feels China is not a transparent economy.
He said despite Pakistan not giving MFN status to India, the export of goods to Pakistan in the last financial year had touched 1.4 billion dollars. Trade with Pakistan is of much significance for India since it facilitates trade with Afghanistan despite the fact that Pakistan has given transit facility to Afghanistan to export its goods to India and not to the Indian businessmen to use Pakistan as transit for export of goods to Afghanistan.
Jairam Ramesh assured to take up the issue of declassifying Punjab from the status of a disturbed state which was given during the days of terrorism. ‘‘Till now, I was not aware that Punjab is a disturbed area,'' he said. He also recommended increase in the Centre's share from 50% to 75% for development of Amritsar under Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission.
Disturbed to see the poor infrastructure of Amritsar, Jairam Ramesh talked to Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of planning commission over phone and asked him to develop infrastructure of the holy city under Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. ‘‘Cities like Bangalore have received Rs 800 to Rs 1200 crore for development,'' he said, adding that infrastructure of 63 cities was presently being upgraded under the programme and in Punjab, four cities including Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Mohali also fell under the category for development under the project. Under the scheme, 50% funds were provided by the central government while the rest of the share was given by state government and the respective municipal corporations. Referring to deputy commissioner of Amritsar Kahan Singh Pannu, he said according to the DC, the money couldn't be received from the Centre since state and local bodies were unable to contribute their funds. He said he was upset to see the poor infrastructure on the roads leading to Golden Temple.
On giving special economic sanctions to the neighbouring states, he said, ‘‘They will end in 2010,'' adding that central governments must have a different approach to Punjab.
Trade across LoC
The government has identified Slamabad in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir for carrying out trade across the LoC, said union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh. He added that both the nations had exchanged a list of products for trading activities and that India had sent a list of 14 items, out of which Pakistan had approved nine, including carpets, handicrafts, furniture, silk, dry fruits, flower and spices, saffron, ‘wajwan', medicinal herbs and coriander. ‘‘The trade will be to-andfro,'' the minister added. He said though trade was to begin in the month of January, due to the political scenario across the border, it was expected to take off before the SAARC summit scheduled for July.
The minister mooted a proposal for Co-prosperity Zone of Amritsar and Lahore. However, he added that there was no proposal to open any new gates across the international border with Pakistan in Punjab. He also necessitated upon the need of opening a visa centre at Amritsar.
ICP at Attari
The Integrated Check Post at Attari land border would be developed at a cost of Rs 90 crore, said union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh. He said a total of 13 ICPs were being developed in the country at the cost of Rs 900 crore. He also held a meeting with the officials belonging to Customs, BSF and the district during his visit to Attari land border on Friday.
He said seven ICPs were being developed across the India-Bangladesh border, while four were being raised on the Indo-Nepal border, and one each at Indo-Myanmar and Indo-Pak borders. He said for developing an ICP at Attari, a total of 120 acre land would be acquired. ‘‘There will no Nandigram-like incident. The process of acquiring land will be fully transparent,'' the minister claimed. The Centre had already released Rs 12 crore for the purpose.
He talked about setting up an animal quarantine station at Attari and a parking facility for at least 500 trucks, besides installing scanners for security clearance of trucks arriving from Pakistan.
Ramesh ‘strolls onto’ Pak land
Attari/Amritsar: Union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh crossed the Radcliffe Line to take a ‘stroll' inside the Pakistani territory. However, he was without any legal travel documents. Accompanied by some officials, the minister reportedly went up to the conference hall of Pakistan Rangers