By Javed Iqbal
LAHORE: The Punjab government has finally approved and notified the Industrial Strategy and Skills Strategy, 2019 to help the speedy establishment of manufacturing units in the province.
For the first time, the investors will be facilitated by offering credit guarantees. A credit bureau will be established for the purpose. The policy also optimizes the use of natural resources in the province.
The government has also abolished the role of labour inspectors to visit the manufacturing units to the maximum level.
A huge amount of Rs150 billion has been demanded to materialize the dream of industrialisation in the province.
The Punjab Industrial Policy, 2018 has already been approved.
It is based on a fundamental approach to create and enable a conducive environment for industrialization. The Punjab government had hired a consultant firm to finalize this policy.
The key directions taken by the industrial policy include revamping of industrial zones as anchors for industrial transformation. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) will be set up along the industrial corridor in the province for a business-friendly environment.
Moreover, the policy focuses on improving exports to decrease burden on rupee.
Punjab houses over two million SMEs and some very dynamic exporting clusters like surgical, garments, sports, footwear, auto parts, furniture, agriculture and processed foods and frozen meat. The government intends to increase compliance standards by cost sharing with small firms to meet international standards and to obtain certification.
According to the new strategy, the government will ensure the provision of quality infrastructure in industrial estates including power, waste disposal, effluent treatment, vocational training and one window facilitation centre.
Moreover, to implement strategic pillars, the provincial Industries and Mines departments will extend all-out efforts to streamline establishing new businesses.
The PSIC will be restructured to facilitate those who want to invest in the business sector. The government would ensure to reduce the interface between public sector inspectors and the industries.
All fees and taxes will be paid online and violations through challans.
Inspectors will not visit the industrial premises for collection of fees. Inspections for weights and measures of products will be done at retail outlets. Likewise, boiler and civil defence inspections will be transferred to a third party certification.
Labour inspections will be done against a well-defined simple code-book.
The discretionary powers of labour inspectors to place a fine and lock the premises will be removed.
Whereas, only directors on a complaint will examine the factory or any industrial unit.
The government will also establish colonization and speedy development of industrial estates in Vehari, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan. Moreover, the government will accelerate efforts to make Allama Iqbal Industrial City a special economic zone in Faisalabad. The government will also approve and implement the Punjab Investment Policy in this regard.
Industries, Commerce and Investment Department estimates that it required approximately Rs. 125 billion and development funds over the next five years to implement the policies and the strategic plan. Moreover, the Mines and Minerals Department has also suggested that it will require Rs. 20 billion.
The Singapore Model may be implemented in Punjab. It provides enough lessons to figure investment in the high growth sector. China’s industrial sector has been relocating to neighboring countries. Under the CPEC, it opens up new opportunities for Punjab to benefit from migrated industrialization.
The strategy also discusses the low skilled technical staff that hampers the next generation industrialization. This alone is the biggest detractor blocking Punjab to enter into the
next generation industrial activity. The government will develop and improve the technology policy in line with the federal government policy approved in 2018.
The government will also create the Skills Development Authority as the regulator of skill sector in Punjab. Likewise, to strengthen the testing and certification regime, Punjab Skill Testing Agency will be established.
The government will also establish two technology universities in DG Khan and Rawalpindi for generating workforce needed to meet the requirement of jobs in industrial sector.
The documents also detail about a study conducted by Punjab Skill Development Fund (PSDF) that reflect demands made by the different sectors. 1000 grinders and polishes are required by the surgical industry with a growth of 20% every year; 500 grinders and polishers are required by cutlery sector in Wazirabad and15000 workers by the sports industry of Sialkot. A majority of these are in football stitching and football hybrid technology. Auto parts industry has identified a demand of over 50,000 workers over the next three years for dies, sheet metal, metal casting, electronics and assembling. The fan sector has identified a need for 500 workers in an assembly line and garments sector would require over 130,000 workers in the next five years.
The new strategy also makes arrangements to generate expert human capital. The government, through its different agencies, will develop linkages with the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East. The government will also pilot dual education and skills training program in its public schools with the intent to scale up the system to increase human capital productivity for its future labour force.