Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said he will soon do a soft launch of land bank that is available with some of the states for industry, and nearly 5,00,000 hectares of area have been identified. He also said that the ministry is trying to create a land bank portal through which a person sitting anywhere in the world can look at land plots, which is available in all over the country, by using google earth map. “Very soon, I will do a soft launch of the land banks that are available with some of the state. So far six states have shared their data…We have been able to identify nearly 5,00,000 hectares of land which is available for industry. “So, any worries around availability of land are unfounded. There is enough and more land available all over the country for different industries,” the minister said at a CII webinar on ease of doing business.
The ministry is also working to create industry specific clusters in different parts of the country. On labour laws, he said 16-17 states and UTs have sent their proposals to the Centre, and the labour ministry is examining those recommendations and “try to commonalise their ideas, so that states can offer a very easy to implement labour law ecosystem, keeping the interest of the labour fully, yet ensuring that industry does not have difficulty in implementing that labour laws. So, we are working for labour law regulation”.
Further, the ministry urged the industry to sensitise their members about the serious consequences of misusing the law and how that could be detrimental to the industry. “When ever you talk of self-certification, my greatest concern is that we ourselves do not police the system very well. By ourselves, I do not mean the government…You will also have to help in sensitising the people to the serious consequences of misusing the law and how that is detrimental to the industry at large because every time somebody breaks the law, it gives an opportunity for officials to (create) one more process. He said that industry leaders from CII, Ficci and Assocham have to play the role of whistle-blower very often. “Very often people talk about the GST system being complex. I will share with you why the GST system became complex. “You have 37 states and UTs, and officials share the worst practices with each other, their worst experiences and how ingeniously some people have used or misused the law in their area, how they tried to plug it and when all those misuses of the law came on the table, an effort was made to stop that kind of a misuse and the law tended to become complex,” Goyal said.
The government would like to promote self certification, randomised and occasional inspections of if there is any strong evidence that a law has been broken, he noted. But, he said, this is all possible only when both industry and governments work as partners, and for that industry will have to play a proactive role and they have to make sure that “rotten eggs do not come in and spoil the level of trust that we are trying to build”.
Different ministries are also engaged in finding laws which have now become redundant and can be done away with, he said, adding the commerce and industry ministry is trying to do a complete online certification in Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), and Indian Boiler Regulations.
On availability of credit, the minister said: “We have worked very seriously with the bankers and they have given strong assurances that they are going to provide adequate finance to support industry. Finance ministry is looking at ways to ensure long term finance for promoting investments”. Goyal pointed out that signs of business revival are clear from the figures of exports and imports.
India’s exports and imports are almost 88 per cent and 75 per cent of last year’s level respectively, he added. “We are almost there at about 88 per cent in export level and 75-76 per cent in import level. When we remove the petroleum imports and exports, then we are almost coming back to last year’s level in exports and 80-85 per cent level in imports. So, business is bouncing back very quickly,” the minister said. He added that most of the trade restrictions that the government has placed temporarily to ensure adequate supplies of medical equipment, medicines, pharma products, surgical masks, gloves in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic have been eased. “Very soon, I plan to ease restrictions on ventilators also…We have truly demonstrated to the world that any temporary restrictions that India placed because of COVID were temporary and for a defined period, and we have removed and eased them as we become self-reliant,” Goyal said.
Speaking at the webinar Secretary in the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Guruprasad Mohapatra said they are working on ways to reduce compliance burden of industries. “We are calling a meeting sometime next week on the issue,” he said, adding they would see what kind of compliances are required before inception and to operate and maintain an industry.
Speaking at a webinar of industry chamber PHDCCI, Goyal said that the government is working to further promote ease of doing business, declog processes and systems. He said that the pandemic has altered consumer behaviour patterns and now more people are shifting for online purchases. “I think, retail trade will also have to shift with new strategies and align themselves in this evolving consumer preference,” he said, adding there was some slowdown in retail due to COVID-19 but “I think, we will once again see retail trade opening up quickly”. Going forward, he said particularly in a country like India, “we will have global and technology driven sales and we will have our corner stores, the small grocery stores, small mom and pop stores that serve us in our neighbourhood both co-existing and converging to work as one”. Goyal added that “very soon” he will be announcing a national traders welfare board.