The government is working on a single window portal that drastically reduces the number of times businesses would need to interact with the government for getting clearances, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.
Speaking at the online National Digital Conference on ‘Easing Doing Business for Atmanirbhar Bharat’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Goyal added that regulatory and policy stability is important for doing business and the government is committed to it. “The Government is genuinely working to create a true Single Window System which is completely digital and provides for unified and integrated business procedures. In addition, we will also encourage risk based self-regulation and third party certifications," he said.
Goyal stressed that a soft launch of the Land Bank Portal will be undertaken soon. With six states on board, it will showcase 500,000 hectares of land that has already been identified. This will allow online viewing of land available for companies, from their distant offices, precluding the need to frequently visit the offices of land-owning agencies. Government is also looking for onboarding more states for helping them ease their labour laws and compliances, on the lines of what has been done in Uttar Pradesh, he further added.
Since 2016, the Centre has been prodding all states to map the available land at their disposable and create clusters of well-connected land banks that can attract foreign investments. But the level of work done in this area varies widely among states with state legislatures struggling to amend regulations on common lands in panchayat areas, which open them up to industrial development. Also, heavily populated states like West Bengal, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh have struggled to create industrial land parcels while conflicts around land have risen, according to Land Conflict Watch.org, an online data research project that says seven million people are affected by growing fight over farmland.
In the last budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the investment clearance cell would provide end-to-end facilitation and support, including pre-investment advisory and information on land banks, and facilitate clearances at both the Centre and State levels. A senior industry department official said the portal was initially being built keeping in mind foreign investors, but would be equally helpful for domestic entrepreneurs and investors.
“Production linked incentives are in the pipeline for 12 major sectors like active pharmaceutical ingredients and electronics. The Government plans to expand the horizon to as many as 20 sectors," Goyal said. He also urged the industry to identify areas where policy stability is necessary for domestic industry and foreign investors.
The Minister asserted that the government is also working on a fast-track mechanism for micro and small industries. He stressed that Atmanirbhar Bharat is not about closing doors but opening up and greater global engagement, albeitfrom a position of strength and fair practices. Alluding to nascent signs of recovery on the horizon currently, Goyal said the services sector has been very resilient even in the face of the duress faced due to Covid-19. While temporary restrictions placed during the initial months of the pandemic has now been removed, decriminalisation of laws and removing regulatory policy hurdles are some of the measures on the anvil now.
Responding to industry’s suggestion for broadening the current Business Reform Action Plan - the government's main playbook to improve ease of doing business - to include factors such as access to finance, Goyal mentioned that improving the availability of long-term finance for the industry remains a key focus on the government.