Chandigarh, Nov 17 – Expressing concern over the difference of opinion between the state and Central governments on the newly enacted farm laws, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday categorically stated that he is not against corporates but there has to be a regulation to protect the farmers and the long-standing relationship they have with the ‘arhtiyas’.
“Any attempt to do away with this system will not work,” he asserted, adding that his government had brought in Bills in the Vidhan Sabha to negate the impact of the Central farm laws and had also taken up the issue with the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister, among others.
“We have to ensure food security, what is plenty today may not be there tomorrow,” he pointed out, adding that while India is currently exporting wheat, it doesn’t mean that the surplus foodgrains will remain forever.
The country has to maintain its reserves, he said at the virtual inaugural session of the USA-Punjab Investors’ Roundtable 2020.
Appreciating the growing interest of American companies in Punjab, which contributes 3 per cent to India’s GDP with just 1.5 per cent of the country’s land area, the Chief Minister said that while Punjab is predominantly an agricultural state and home to India’s Green Revolution, his government wants agriculture to become more high-value now, with greater growth in the overseas market.
Inviting the investors to enjoy the state’s unique business-friendly culture that promotes entrepreneurship, he pointed out that the US is the top export destination ($685 million amounting to approx 12 per cent of Punjab’s total exports in 2019-20) for Punjab-based companies.
At the outset, the Chief Minister congratulated the US on the completion of its electoral process and on the election of Joe Biden and Kamla Harris as President and Vice President elect, respectively.
He hoped this would usher in a new era of cooperation and friendship between the US and Punjab.
Underlining the role played by the large and vibrant Punjabi NRI population in the US, the Chief Minister said they are working hard to bring success to their countries, with Taranjit Singh Sandhu, currently serving as the Indian Ambassador to the US, being a prime example of the synergy that exists between the US and Punjab.
Noting that Punjab is the preferred landing place for several American and other foreign investors coming to India, the Chief Minister pointed out that Pepsi and Walmart started their India operations in Punjab, and more than 30 American firms, such as Amazon, Walmart, Quark, Cargill, Tyson, Schreiber, Pepsi and Coca Cola, currently have operations in the state.
Referring to the sweeping changes made by his government in the industrial and business policy, the Chief Minister said it is an all-encompassing policy that provides attractive incentives to the large units, MSMEs and startups across both manufacturing and service sectors.
Later, in response to a question on the sports industry in the state, Amarinder Singh said that it largely constitutes of MSMEs.
Punjab ranks first in India in production as well as export of bicycles and bicycle components, along with 29 per cent share in India’s tractor production and ranks second in export of tractors from India.
Punjab contributes to 25 per cent of India’s secondary steel market, number one in handtool and machine tool production in India, he noted.
Kickstarting the summit, Mukesh Agnihotri, President and CEO, USISPF, spoke about the investment potential offered by Punjab for US companies, saying that the ease of doing business and transparency promoted by the state government are yielding results and the feedback received from the investor and business community is extremely positive.
In his concluding remarks, Alok Shekhar, Industry Secretary, Punjab, said the state is home to many US brands, several of which have expanded operations significantly in the past three years.
He urged the US to set up a trade centre in Mohali to further promote collaborations.