'Not against corporates, but need to protect farmers'

Not against corporates, but need to protect farmers: Punjab CM Amarinder

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Credit: PTI File Photo

Concerned over the difference of opinion between the state and central governments on the agricultural laws, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday categorically said that the state is not against corporates but there has to be a regulation to protect farmers and the long-standing relationship they have with the Arhtiyas (commission agents).

Any attempt to do away with this system will not work, he asserted, adding that his government had brought in Bills in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to negate the impact of the central farm laws and had also taken up the issue with the Prime Minister, 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 was currently exporting wheat it did not mean that the surplus foodgrains will remain forever.       

The country has to keep its reserves, he said at the virtual inaugural session of the USA-Punjab Investors' Roundtable 2020, an official release said.

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 his government wanted agriculture to become more high-value now, with greater growth in the overseas market.

Inviting the investors to enjoy the state's business-friendly culture that "promoted entrepreneurship", he pointed out that the US was the top export destination -- USD 685 million amounting to approx. 12 per cent of Punjab's total exports in 2019-20.      

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 the US and Punjab.      

Underlining the role played by the large Punjabi NRI population in the US, the Chief Minister said they were working hard to bring success to their countries, with Taranjit Singh Sandhu, currently serving as the Indian Ambassador to the US, a prime example of the synergy that exists between the US and Punjab.    

Noting that Punjab was 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 Indian operations in Punjab, and more than 30 American firms, such as Amazon, Walmart, Quark, Cargill, Tyson, Schreiber, Pepsi, Coca Cola currently have operations in Punjab.

Referring to the "sweeping changes" made by his government in the industrial and business policy, the Chief Minister said it was an all-encompassing policy that provides attractive incentives to large units, MSMEs and start-ups across both, manufacturing and service sectors.

In response to a question on the sports industry in the state,  Amarinder said Punjab's industry is largely constituted of MSMEs.

Punjab ranks 1st in India in production as well as exports of bicycle and bicycle components, along with 29per cent share in India's Tractor production and ranks 2nd in export of Tractors from India.

Punjab contributes to 25 per cent of India's secondary steel market, No. 1 in Hand tools and Machine tools production in India, he noted.         

Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India's ambassador to the United States, said the lives of people across the globe had changed significantly since the pandemic, with the world becoming a reality.

Pointing out that both India and US thrive on technology, he said he was encouraging US investors to consider Punjab, which was India's pride in more ways than one, as their next destination.        He cited the growth in Punjab's food, woollen, stitching machine, bicycle production, sports equipment sectors, among others, and pointed to the state's excellent economic growth rate of 10 per cent in the last decade.        

There was immense scope for expansion into education, food procession and education sectors, etc, he added.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox