In the run-up to the second Progressive Punjab Investors Summit, the state government has signed memoranda of understanding with over 400 companies that have promised to pump in more than Rs 96,000 crore.
The summit begins at the International School of Business (ISB) campus here on Wednesday with top corporate honchos, including Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO and ICICI Bank Ltd; YC Deveshwar, chairman ITC Ltd; GVK Reddy, chairman GVK Power and infrastructure Ltd; Gautam Adani, chairman Adani Enterprises and Ajay Piramal, chairman, Piramal Enterprises, expected to attend the two-day show. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal will inaugurate the event that will be attended by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and over a dozen Punjab cabinet ministers.
The summit was preceded by a high-pitched media blitzkrieg which lasted over a month. It ensured that over 400 companies commit Rs 96,000 crore of investment in the next three years in the state. Unlike the first summit in 2013, where the MoUs with companies were signed during the summit, the Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion (PBIP) has got the documents inked before the summit. Companies were sent copies of draft MoUs which were signed in the office of the CEO PBIP in the past one month.
The big question, however, is: How many of these MOus will turn in to actual investment? During the first summit, over 128 MoUs - amounting to almost Rs 68,000 crore of committed investment - were signed. However, in the past two years, the state has seen investment worth only Rs 30,000 crore trickling in.
“Other than the promise of investment, the whole effort is to also generate the requisite environment to show the world that Punjab is a favoured investment destination,” said DK Tewari of PBIP.
The summit, however, is taking place in the backdrop of immense unrest in the state. The SAD-BJP led government has been facing one crisis after another for the past month. A failed cotton crop led to a long drawn farmer’s agitation immediately followed by violent protests by Sikh bodies against the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib. The crises won’t have any impact on the event, claim the organisers. “More than 100 heads of top corporate houses are expected to be at the event and there has not been a single cancellation citing Punjab situation as the reason,” said Tewari.
The focus of the government is on making the event a big success. Nearly Rs 5 crore has been spent on organising the two-day event. Over 100 bureaucrats are involved in the event with majority of them acting as liaison officers with the guests. The government has in the past one week also announced changes in its fiscal incentives for industrial promotion policy and also approved a Punjab Development of Trade and Industries Ordinance. Other than the media campaign, Sukhbir has been meeting corporate heads across the country hard-selling the state as an investment destination.
Among other sectors, this year, the summit will focus on the opportunities in aerospace and defence, a green field area for Punjab. The state has offered Mohali as a possible civil aviation maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) hub. The government also wants the Integrated Aerospace and Defence Park to e set up here.