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Punjab budget: A road map sans allocations for industry

While stressing ease of doing business, FM fails to elaborate upon funds to be spent on major plans

punjab Updated: Mar 25, 2018 09:35 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal started the section on industry and business development on a self-congratulatory note.
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal started the section on industry and business development on a self-congratulatory note.(Keshav Singh)

In his second budget speech after the Congress came to power in Punjab, finance minister Manpreet Badal started the section on industry and business development on a self-congratulatory note.

Claiming that no other government had provided power to industry at Rs 5 per unit, Manpreet said coupled with Rs 1,440-crore annual subsidy it will give a fillip to the sector.

However, when it came to new schemes and their allocations, the budget fell short of expectations.

The budget states that the government will make efforts to develop a strong ecosystem wherein startups and entrepreneurs can attain their optimum potential.

To strengthen its “Invest Punjab” initiative, the government will set up a “Business First” portal to provide all regular services and fiscal incentives to businesses through one common integrated platform and service delivery network.

Highlights
  • New Software Technology Park of India in Amritsar
  • Generating 3,000 jobs by giving incentives for setting up BPO centres
  • Chandigarh-Ludhiana-Amritsar and Chandigarh-Hoshiarpur-Gurdaspur to be developed as urban industrial corridors
  • Setting up of industrial training institutes and skill development centres in all blocks

The government will also set up a Software Technology Park of India (STPI) in Amritsar in collaboration with the Union government to give a thrust for an all-inclusive growth of software industry in the region. Already functional in Mohali, these parks help meet the needs of budding entrepreneurs by providing them with a gamut of services to promote software exports.

The budget also proposes India BPO Promotion Scheme, under which incentives will be given to those setting up business process outsourcing (BPO) units in the state. It is expected to translate into 3,000 jobs.

However, Manpreet failed to mention allocation to any of these plans.

Focus on focal points

Meanwhile, the government has brought industrial parks and industrial estates — areas zoned and planned to develop industries — under one umbrella. Besides providing common facilities and amenities to them, the government will simplify estate management policies, said Badal.

While Rs 10 crore have been earmarked for developing and modernising infrastructure in existing industrial estates and focal points at Khanna, Ludhiana (Phase 8) and Patiala, industrial focal points at Ludhiana (Phase 4), Jalandhar, (old), Bathinda (new) and Mandi Gobindgarh will also be upgraded. A modern focal point is coming up at Nabha in Patiala at a total cost of Rs 55.4 crore, states the speech.

Special packages for sick industry and incentives to the border zone also find mention in the budget.

Free skill training

To meet the shortage of skilled labour, the government plans to set up cluster-specific skill centres for various manufacturing sectors, including one in Ludhiana for the cycle industry.

Under its technical education head, the budget says a new scheme — Punjab Naujawan Hunar Vikas Yojana — will be launched to provide free skill training to unemployed youth in the age group of 18-35 years.

The scheme will specifically focus on scheduled castes, backward classes, specially abled, women and school dropouts. An initial allocation of ₹10 crore has been made in the budget.

Meanwhile, no allocation has been made to the much-hyped Skill University at Chamkaur Sahib. “Requisite budgetary allocations would be provided in the due course for this purpose,” reads the budget speech.

Calling the whole budget a replication of Akali government budgets “that forced 18,000 industries to close down in six years”, Badish Jindal, president of the Federation of Punjab Small Industries Associations, said: “In the 61-page speech of the finance minister, only a half page was given to industry. It shows the importance of industry for the state government.”

“The state government has not made any special announcement for industrial units in Punjab,” said Upkar Ahuja, president of the Confederation of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU). “The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which form the backbone of our industries, have not been granted anything in this budget and their long-pending demands have not been touched upon.”