Implement policies in letter and spirit
The Uttar Pradesh government is embarking on perhaps the biggest ever push towards boosting economic growth in the state through planned industrialisation. The UP Investors Summit is expected to witness a pantheon of political leaders, industrialists, consultants and diplomats descend on the City of Nawabs to hear why they should invest in UP and to ink MoUs worth several thousands of crores, indicating their interest to invest in the state.
While Lucknow is being given a facelift for the summit, a few important points need to be kept in mind:
1. UP, despite having had one of the best investment promotion policies in recent years, has lagged woefully behind other states in terms of attracting investment. Despite being a goldmine in the form of our market size and our extensive agrarian base, investors have shied away from committing investments in the state.
2. This is traditionally the investment summit season. Assam has just hosted one. Maharashtra’s jamboree is just a day before UP’s. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh events are in the offing. This means that both the domestic and foreign investor community are going to be spoilt for choice. Hence, UP will need to have its value proposition spelt out very clearly in order to get prospective investors to bite.
3. It is also important to understand what has kept investors away so far. While the reasons of political instability, non-alignment between centre and state and a poor perception of the law and order situation are well known, the elephant in the room continues to be a persistent apathy towards business/ industry right down to the lowest levels in government.
Almost every government over the past 20 years has promised large-scale industrialisation in the state whether through investment promotion outreach, or models like the erstwhile UPDC. Regrettably, these have not yielded the desired benefits. The above factors have led to a very high degree of cynicism regarding the ultimate reality from promised investments.
Fortunately, the indications in the run-up to the summit are positive. Most senior bureaucrats seem to be committed towards changing the status quo, willing to accept suggestions and inputs and engage in dialogue towards resolution of many issues.
As an industry representative, I have the following wish list:
1. Implementation of newly formulated state policies not just in letter, but also spirit. The government needs to ensure that benefits to investors are delivered speedily in a transparent manner.
2. Effective implementation and continuous monitoring of the Single Window clearance platform planned by the state – not just for the “biggies” but also the MSMEs which constitute the largest population of our industries.
3. A variation of the Chinese model in which the DMs, as the foremost government functionaries in any district, would be continuously monitored on the scale and pace of industrial growth in their districts, and would thereby also be incentivised to ensure speedy resolution of issues brought before them.
4. A ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for corruption at all levels, particularly in departments like labour, pollution, revenue which are the very life-blood for industrial growth.
5. A policy of deemed permissions and clearances, whereby in the absence of any response from the concerned authority in a finite and defined time, the permission is deemed to be given.
6. A progressive, trust based self certification policy for government clearances with a system of randomised checks, with strict penalties for defaulters.
Industry has always been ready, it is now important for government to “walk the talk”.
If the two are able to converge, there is no reason why Uttar Pradesh cannot emerge as an industrial powerhouse in its own right in the times to come