As deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal woos big business houses to invest in Punjab, the industry here has urged him to also pay attention to the local units in the state, especially the micro, small and medium (MSME) industry.
"In the new industrial policy, sops are being offered for firms having an investment of Rs 10 crore or more. There is nothing in it for small industrialists. We welcome the move to bring investment from big houses, but first, the existing industry should also be upgraded and taken care of," said Gurmeet Singh Kular, president, Federation of Industrial and Commercial Organisations (FICO).
A delegation of FICO on Friday met joint director industries KS Brar in Chandigarh and requested him to convey the "reality" of the small industry to the deputy chief minister.
Federation of Associations of Small Industries in India (FASII) president Badish Jindal said that before inviting big industrialists, the deputy chief minister should first order the strengthening of the existing system, dealing with which was nothing less than harassment for industrialists.
"The government wants to develop industry in Punjab on the pattern of Gujarat. But that will not be possible by inviting big houses only. The system that issues clearances should also be on the pattern of Gujarat. In Punjab, even a small task like the clearance of VAT refund takes months, whereas in Gujarat the money comes automatically into the account after clearance from the excise department," Jindal said.
The industrialists said the investment from big houses might add to the achievements of the government, but the state would get more income in the form of sales tax if the existing industry was strengthened.
"It's the MSME industry that pays maximum tax to the state; you compare it with big houses, they stand nowhere," said Jindal.
United Cycles Parts Manufacturers Association (UCPMA) president Charanjit Vishwakarma wondered how bringing big houses could put the industry on track when the existing industry was not in order.
"The condition of roads around industrial houses is pathetic, the electricity supply is erratic, and the state government has burdened us by levying huge property tax. Before inviting big houses, the government should create a conducive environment for the local industry that is the backbone of the state economy," said the UCPMA chief.
"We welcome invitation to big houses, but the government should pay attention to the state's industry. The industry from Mandi Gobindgarh has fled to other states and 90% of the units in Ludhiana are struggling for survival," said Vinod Thapar, chairman of Knitwear Club, Ludhiana.
He said talking about big houses was good, but if small houses got closed down because of the "wrong" policies, it would collapse the economy of the state. It's the MSME industry that provided maximum jobs and paid the maximum tax to the government, he said.