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‘Punjab needs shift in strategy to attract big investments’ says CII chairman Rakesh Bharti Mittal

Mittal talked to Hindustan Times on various issues concerning industrial development in Punjab during his visit to Chandigarh.

punjab Updated: Jul 18, 2018 11:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab,Bharti Enterprises,Rakesh Bharti Mittal
Rakesh Bharti Mittal is the vice-chairman of Ludhiana-origin telecom giant Bharti Enterprises.(HT Photo)

The vice-chairman of Ludhiana-origin telecom giant Bharti Enterprises, Rakesh Bharti Mittal, who recently became president of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), talked to Hindustan Times on various issues concerning industrial development in Punjab during his visit to Chandigarh on Tuesday. Here are excerpts:

Why has Punjab failed in attracting big investments?

There are many reasons. Any industrial house will invest in a place having the maximum ease-of-doing business. An investor doesn’t have to face hassle while setting up new units. The biggest problem with Punjab is the availability of land. While I must say that the state has a great work culture and a highly productive workforce it has to work on its weaknesses to make sure we start getting industries. Punjab needs a strategy shift to attract big investments.

In the fresh rankings, Punjab slipped to 20th position on ease-of-doing business. What are the weaknesses of our state?

I don’t know the exact reasons but I agree that the non-implementation of the single window system has brought the rankings down. The second biggest issue is poor air connectivity. Ludhiana is an industrial hub but it doesn’t a have a regular flight from the national capital. The only flight that connects the industrial town with Delhi is not regular. But these rankings do matter as they create impressions on the investors’ minds.

What can be Punjab’s strengths to attract investments?

The biggest sector, I think, can be the food processing industry. The central government is providing several incentives to promote this industry. We just have to grab the opportunity with both our hands. In an agrarian state like Punjab, farmers are under stress and they are desperately looking to imrpeove their income. If I look at the Prime Minister’s vision of doubling farmers’ income, Punjab can take the lead in removing the bottlenecks and making private sector invest in primary agriculture and set up processing units. Health and education are two other important sectors that Punjab can sell.

How can CII help the Punjab government?

Through our Food and Agriculture Centre of Excellence (FACE) in Delhi, we are going to partner with Punjab and Haryana where we would go in the field and group with farmers in clusters. The Punjab government has offered all possible help for us.

Is the problem of drug menace in Punjab is a cause of concern for the industry?

Of course, it is. But I must commend the way the state government has taken on the menace head-on. From the industry, money meant for corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives can be pumped in for the cause. It should be a collective fight.

First Published: Jul 18, 2018 11:43 IST