Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 17
Expressing concern over the difference of opinion between the state and central governments on the agricultural bills, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said his government was not against corporates but it had to ensure farmers’ interests were protected.
“We are not against corporates but there has to be a regulation to protect the farmers and the long-standing relationship they have with the Arhtiyas,” he said at the USA-Punjab Investors’ Roundtable 2020 that he inaugurated.
“Any attempt to do away with this system will not work,” he asserted, adding that his government had brought in Bills in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to negate the impact of the central farm laws and had also taken up the issue with the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister, among others.
“We have to ensure food security, what is plenty today may not be there tomorrow,” he pointed out, adding that India was currently exporting wheat but that could change when its surplus diminished.
“The country has to keep its reserves,” he said at the virtual inaugural session of the USA-Punjab Investors’ Roundtable 2020.
Appreciating the growing interest of American companies in Punjab, which contributes 3 per cent to India’s GDP with just 1.5 per cent of the country’s land area, the Chief Minister said earlier that while it was predominantly an agricultural state and home to India’s Green Revolution, his government wanted agriculture to become more high-value now, with greater growth in the overseas market.
Inviting the investors to enjoy the state’s unique business-friendly culture that promoted entrepreneurship, he pointed out that USA was the top export destination (USD 685 million amounting to approx. 12% of Punjab’s total exports in 2019-20) for Punjab-based companies.
At the outset, the Chief Minister congratulated the US on the completion of its electoral process and on the election of Joe Biden and Kamla Harris as President and Vice President elect, respectively. He hoped this would usher in a new era of cooperation and friendship between the US and Punjab.
Underlining the role played by the large and vibrant Punjabi NRI population in the US, the Chief Minister said they were working hard to bring success to their countries, with Taranjit Singh Sandhu, currently serving as the Indian Ambassador to the US, a prime example of the synergy that exists between USA & Punjab.
Noting that Punjab was the preferred landing place for several American and other foreign investors coming to India, the Chief Minister pointed out that Pepsi and Walmart started their Indian operations at Punjab, and more than 30 American firms, such as Amazon, Walmart, Quark, Cargill, Tyson, Schreiber, Pepsi, Coca Cola currently have operations in Punjab.
Referring to the sweeping changes made by his government in the industrial and business policy, the Chief Minister said it was an all-encompassing policy that provides attractive incentives to large units, MSMEs and Start-ups across both, manufacturing and service sectors.
Invest Punjab (Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion) is one of its kind with its model of “Unified Regulator”, the Chief Minister noted, disclosing that more than 66 services from more than 12 departments could be availed at this single-window service portal.
“The CEO PBIP is vested with the power to grant state level clearances,” he said, adding that there is an emphasis on equal incentives to expansion and new units in the new policy, which also provides unique police incentives, such as GST reimbursement and liberal employment subsidy (with no domicile restriction).
Referring to the gender neutrality prevailing in Punjab’s industry, the Chief Minister noted that 24 hours shifts are allowed in the state for both men and women for all types of industries – manufacturing and service sectors.
Later, in response to a question on the Sports industry in the state, Captain Amarinder said Punjab’s industry is largely constituted of MSMEs.