Sukhbir Singh Badal, the deputy chief minister of Punjab, who also holds the investment promotion ministry, is going that proverbial extra mile to roll out a red carpet to industrialists. He was in Mumbai this week to meet some of the biggies seeking investments into his state, known largely for its agricultural prowess. To give his efforts a push, APCO, the company which is promoting the Gujarat government, has been roped in, and an investment summit is being planned at Mohali this December. Excerpts from his interview with Kanchan Srivastava of dna and Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News:
Besides being deputy CM and president of Shiromani Akali Dal, you are also handling portfolios of home, housing, excise, investment promotion, sports and youth welfare, reforms and governance. Your father and CM Prakash Singh Badal holds eight departments. This gives an impression that father-son duo are running the show.
I don’t see any wrong in it. We both are giving our bests.
You are in Mumbai for the last two days meeting topmost industrialists. What has been the response so far?
We know that if we want to attract investment in our state, we have to go to meet industrialists personally. And we got wonderful response. Let’s see how it works out. (Mahindra & Mahindra has agreed to establish a University and food processing industries while Godrej wishes to go into housing and biomass power)
(Sudhir Chaudhary): What Punjab has to offer to Industries which other states don’t?
We are going to be a power surplus state by the year end, thanks to our diverse kitty of thermal, hydroelectric, solar and biomass power plants. We offer the cheapest power in the country which would be Rs2-3 a unit as against Rs6 in other states. Punjab is a landlocked state, so we can’t have seaports so we are building three international airports. We have made domestic airports at every 100 km, besides ensuring good roads across the state. We will offer 80% rebate on VAT for 10 years to make projects free of costs. Punjab is now the easiest state to do business.
It seems you have woken up late as some big industries of Punjab have already gone to other states. For example, Hero cycle has gone to Bihar, textile groups went to Madhya Pradesh and pharmaceutical companies to Himachal Pradesh.
First, these industries are not leaving Punjab. They are just expanding their base to other states and I don’t see any harm in this. Regarding the late comer issue, I would like to clarify that we wanted to make our base very strong before inviting big industries to the state.