With top Indian industrialists pulling out all the stops in hailing as “inspiring and amazing” the slew of investment-attracting steps Punjab has taken, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal positioned himself as the CEO of the state and unravelled his ‘think big, achieve big’ policy during the Progressive Punjab Investors Summit that began here on Wednesday.
It was not just the presence of leading business personalities of the country that visibly gave a much-needed boost to the scale and size of the pro-investment pitch of the SAD-BJP government. In fact, the ‘nice words’ the galaxy of business tycoons lavishly used to applaud the initiatives by Sukhbir in putting the state on the path of fast industrial growth sent a clear message across about the “pro-Punjab sentiment” apparently prevailing among investors with national and global profile.
‘Best investment destination’
Making a strong pitch to attract investment and describing Punjab as the “best investment destination”, the deputy CM, who in the run-up to the second edition of the summit being held at Indian School of Business (ISB) here, had personally knocked at the doors of top industrialists, gave a 35-minute power-point presentation laced with wit.
“In today’s world, the investor is the king. During the licence raj, the investors used to line up at the office of the chief minister. Now, the CM has to stand in front of industrialists’ houses. And due to this industrialists have also started taking advantage,” Sukhbir chuckled as the business community applauded.
“To my mind, it’s not a chief minister standing in front of the industry or industry coming to the administration. It’s our partnership to serve people,” Mukesh Ambani, chairman, Reliance Industries, who attended the summit for around two hours before leaving, responded.
Leading the pack of who’s who of Indian business world, Ambani hailed Sukhbir as “dynamic deputy chief minister” who “has shown real action on the ground by taking exemplary steps”.
While Rahul Bajaj, chairman of the Bajaj group, said he was “surprised, amazed and astounded to hear all that is happening in Punjab to promote investment and the initiatives being taken by the agrarian state”.
Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, draped in a sari and calling herself as “Punjabi daughter-in-law”, said, “Sukhbir’s passion, inspiration and determination to promote investment is exemplary. Kudos to the entire leadership.”
And the final compliment came from SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh, “I wish we had a dynamic leader like Sukhbir Badal in our company.”
Earlier, Sukhbir’s digitally driven address revolved around the fulfilled five promises, ease of doing investment, being power surplus, good road and air connectivity, 4G, industrial parks, 2,500-acre land bank, urban infrastructure and the government going from “inline to online”.
His twin announcements for new investors - waiver of input tax on food processing industry and provision of power at the cheapest rate of Rs 4.99 per unit - were received well by India Inc.
The deputy chief minister told the investors that the basic philosophy of the government is to develop every part of the state as their approach was not city-centric. “Holistic development of the state and not of one city or area,” he said, adding that by January, Punjab would be the first state in the country to have 4G connectivity in the entire state with every village, rural school and hospital being covered under the facility.
Sukhbir said the government had tied up with various corporate houses to establish 2,000 skill centres to train 1.5 lakh youth in various trades and professions in the state. He said companies involved in this task included ICICI Bank, Walmart, ITC, Tata Motors and Maruti. “Nowhere else in the country has this been done,” he said while thanking Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani for taking the initiative.
As representatives came from nine countries, Poland being represented even by a ministerial delegation, Sukhbir claimed Punjab had received Rs 41,187 crore investment against Rs 63,000 worth of MoUs signed in 2013.
Announcing the end of Inspector Raj in the state, he said, “We inherited this system from the British who did not trust Indians. We, however, have started self-declaration and adopted third-party inspection system. In future, no inspector from labour, boiler or pollution departments would visit factories.”
VAT and CST: 50-90% retention
Electricity duty: 50-100% exemption
Stamp duty: 50-100% exemption
Property tax: 50-100% exemption
New food processing unit exempted from purchase tax, VAT/CST
Power at Rs 4.99 per unit for five years
Ease of doing business
23 depts brought under one office for speedy clearance
Five Os formula: One office; One CEO; one email; one phone and clearances in one month
2013 summit report card
Rs 42,187 crore investment cleared
35% agro and food processing
13% Solar power
4% Health and biosciences
630: pre-cleared sites with NOC from pollution, power, land use, forest and industries
2,500 acres: Land bank across Punjab
20 days: Sites allotted to Kansai, Nerolac, Indian Oil
Best peaceful labour relations
Highest labour productivity
1.5 lakh skilled workers to be trained annually by private players