Investment is flowing to Punjab in a big way all thanks to subsequent Progressive Punjab Invest Summits. In order to give a clear message to industrialists that Invest Punjab was really a “single window” and not a window which opened into hundreds of other windows the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal gave the slogan “One man, One phone, One e mail, One office”. That man – the CEO of Invest Punjab is Mr. Anirudh Tewari. The officer, who sits in Chandigarh, is easily approachable and has become a one stop man for all entrepreneurs seeking to invest in Punjab.
While Invest Punjab has a major role in the transformation of the investment scenario in Punjab, the story behind its creation is the reason for its success. The vision for this department and how it would be established and function was spelt out by Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal.
In his own words, Sukhbir Badal says “when I was strategizing how to best kick start investment the creation of a special department for this purpose was a natural corollary. However what was not natural was the manner in which I visualized the department. I realised from day one that the department would be successful in case its CEO could deliver. This was only possible if he had complete power to offer quick clearances to industries wishing to set up shop in Punjab”.
It was then that the Deputy CM decided on a “revolutionary” step. This translated into transferring the powers of more than a dozen departments to the CEO of Invest Punjab and empowering him to grant all regulatory and fiscal incentives. As Mr Badal says, “There were a lot of doubts. People felt how you can take away powers from the heads of various departments, all of whom were IAS officers. My logic was simple. I asked, do all these IAS officers receive the same training or not? If yes, as is the case, I asked then why can’t one officer handle this work. Why should an investor have to go to multiple government departments to secure clearances to invest in the State? None had any answer to this logic.”
How Punjab attracted investment? Besides power, Punjab realized it had to counter balance the fact that it was situated away from a port and was a landlocked State. As the Deputy Chief Minister puts it “I realized the issue was one of connectivity. We decided to make the State the best connected State in the country. Besides the Amritsar international airport, we have a new international airport in Mohali besides four domestic airports. This means an investor can access an airport within one hour driving time anywhere in the State”. Besides air connectivity, the Punjab government has also focused on providing the best road connectivity in the country. Current work which has already started will ensure that every town of Punjab will be connected with four to six lane expressways in around two years. This is being done at a mammoth cost of Rs 22,000 crore.