Punjab unrest likely to cast shadow on investment summit

  • Chitleen K Sethi, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Oct 21, 2015 00:00 IST

It was supposed to be Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s day in the sun. The events of the past 10 days, however, might cast a shadow on his pet event —Progressive Punjab Investors Summit scheduled in SAS Nagar from October 28 to 29.

With only a week to go for the mega advertised event and Sikhs relentless in their protests over the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, the big question is if the summit will go on. “As far as the summit is concerned, we are having it, as scheduled,” said Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion (PBIP) chief executive officer (CEO) Anirudh Tewari.

Things, however, aren’t rosy; and the current unrest in the state could not have come at a worse time for the government that has been preparing for this summit for almost six months now. Officers led by Sukhbir have met top leaders of industry and business in India and invited them to the event. In July, the deputy chief minister took a delegation to Poland, now partner country for the summit. He wants to get more “promised” investment” than received during the summit’s first edition in 2013.

The PBIP says investment worth Rs 9,500 crore had come to the state in the past one year, with 180 companies making queries under Invest Punjab. The buzz, however, is missing. In 2013, Sukhbir micro planned the event to the last detail of all venues, guests, and even the food to be served. The current situation has forced him to cancel most of the meetings with the PBIP officials in the most crucial week of preparation.

On the one hand, the government advertisement campaign is hard-selling Punjab as the best destination to park your money, while on the other hand, Sikh youths out on roads brandishing swords is sending a very different signal to prospective investors. There have been no panic cancellations, though. “No one who has committed to be at the event has called to pull out because of what is happening here,” said Tewari.

If all goes to plan, the event will be larger than the first edition two years ago. This time, the focus is on manufacturing, health, information technology and enabled services, agro and food processing, life sciences, tourism aerospace and defence and renewable energy.

Draft deals reach potential investors

To ensure maximum investment, draft memoranda of understanding (MoUs) have been sent to the potential investors to find out how much money they will park and how many local people they will employ. The potential investors are expected to send the final MoUs to the investment promotion bureau after filling in these details.

Expected companies

Reliance, Videocon, Bunge, Amul, L&T, Sun Pharma, GVK, ITC, Adanis, Piramal, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Cargill, Cremica, Hero, Vardhman, ICICI, HDFC, Nector Lifesciences, Strand Life sciences, Sonalika, Nahar, Trident, Lockheed Martin, Teamlease, Teleperformance, Welspun, Punjllyod, SunEdison among others.

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