Punjab for port status to Wagah

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday described opening of Wagah border for trade as a game changer and said that once given the status of full port and allowed import and export of 6,000 items, it could change the total economic profile of North India.

Delivering keynote address at Invest North, a national convention organised by Confederation of Indian Industry at Gurgaon, he said that Punjab is waiting for the day when it would be allowed to export its agriculture produce including wheat and paddy directly to Pakistan and Central Asian Countries including Iran through road route.

He pointed out that he was going to Pakistan on Monday to explore the possibilities of further strengthening trade ties between Eastern and Western Punjab. He urged Union government to expedite talks for laying oil pipelines from Iran and Kazakhstan to India that could reduce our energy bill substantially.

Sukhbir asked the Central government to change archaic laws, and bring transparency in the working of economic ministries to come out of economic slowdown, impinging the industrial growth of the country. He said bureaucracy has yet to come out of mindset of `License Raj' and Union government would have to take proactive steps to unshackle the economic laws affecting the economic growth of the country. Advocating complete transparency in the decision making, coupled by minimizing discretion of the authorities , he said that such steps could restore the lost confidence of foreign institutional investors in `India's Story' and put our economy back on rails. Driving home the point, he said that Punjab government realizing the same problem had set up Governance Reforms Commission and on its advise had brought in historical changes in the state laws besides ensuring transparency in the decision making process.

Underlining the need for transparency, he said that by making e-tendering mandatory, the Punjab Government could save 20 to 30 per cent on project costs by breaking the age old nexus of engineers and the contractors. He said that now we are moving a step forward by ensuring e-payment through special software in which authorities could not stop the payment of contractors in expectation of gratification. Listing out the steps taken to check the harassment of general public, he said that abolition of affidavits, 25 key amendments in the Revenue Act to reduce the level of appeals, authorizing auto dealers to issue Registration Certificates of Vehicles, authorizing School Principals to issue Driving Licenses, Computerizing Land Records were some basic steps that made the interaction of public with authorities pleasant.

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