With only less than two months left for the Assembly elections in Gujarat, the BJP government on Wednesday unveiled its new garment policy, saying that it will target investments worth Rs 20,000 crore and create about one lakh new jobs. The government also announced setting up of 16 Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) estates in a bid to attract over 15,000 MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) with a cumulative investment of Rs 19,650 crore. These new industrial estates — 50 per cent of which are in Saurashtra region alone — aim to create over one lakh jobs.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the new garment and apparel policy will provide a platform for setting up new garment manufacturing units in the state. “Gujarat produces cotton in huge quantities, but most of it end up as bales in locations across south (India) like Coimbatore… The new policy aims to retain the cotton grown in Gujarat for boosting the textile-value chain… The aim is to ensure that we not only manufacture cloth, but also make garments and export it from Gujarat,” he said, adding that 25 lakh spindles were installed in the last five years and another seven lakh were in the process of being installed.
The government has also proposed to pay a sizeable portion of the salary of workers who will be employed in the new units, to be set up under the new policy. “Our aim is to ensure that maximum women get employed in the garment sector. So we have made a special provision in the policy wherein the state government will pay Rs 4,000 to every women employed by the garment and apparel manufacturing units. Similarly, the government will pay Rs 3,200 to male workers. The government will provide this incentive for five years,” Rupani said, adding that the monthly incentive would only be a portion of the minimum wage of Rs 9,000 that is paid in Gujarat.
The units will also get interest subsidy of five per cent on a loan of maximum Rs 7.5 crore for a period of five years. The manufacturing unit will also get a subsidy of Rs 1 for every unit of electricity consumed for a period of five years.
This policy is in addition to the Textile Policy 2012, which has been given an extension of 12 months after it lapsed earlier this year.
On setting up 16 GIDC estates, the Chief Minister said that it is an attempt to see that industrial development happens in far-flung places like Dahod, Vanod and Vyara. Gujarat already has 202 GIDC industrial estates.
That the elections are on the mind of the government was inevitable from the list of the locations of the new GIDC estates. Instead of naming just the districts, the government press release listed the proposed GIDC estates to their respective Assembly constituencies. (See box)
When asked about it, Rupani said: “The names of the Assembly constituencies have been mentioned because it is otherwise difficult to guage the location of the proposed GIDC just by their names.”
The biggest of the new GIDCs will be set up at Vanod in Surendrnagar district and will spread over 900 hectares. It is expected to attract Rs 6,600 crore investment. The smallest GIDC will spread over just 2 hectares at Dhrol in Jamnagar district, and will attract an investment of Rs 50 crore, the government said.
“As many as 15,000 units will be set up on plots measuring between 50-500 sq m. They will also generate 1 lakh jobs,” said Rupani. These estates will provide common basic facilities and infrastructure to smaller players and will support local industries like the automobile and motor parts manufacturers located in and around Rajkot, he added.
The announcement of new GIDCs focussed on MSMEs came a few months after the Gujarat government organised a function to provide Rs 730 crore as financial incentives to 16,000 MSME units seeking to expand or set up new units in the state.
The new garment policy and setting up of 16 new GIDCs follow the string of announcements the government has been making since Tuesday when it slashed VAT rates by 4 per cent in petrol and diesel.
When asked if the latest announcements were in response to the criticisms made by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi over lack of jobs in the state, Rupani said, “There is no truth in what Rahul Gandhi says. We are ready to discuss along with data and figures. During the 10 years of UPA rule, Gujarat was declared as the state providing maximum employment. Last year’s employment figures also show that Gujarat provided 83 per cent of the total jobs in the country. All these figures are Central government figures.”
“We have challenged Rahul Gandhi to compare Gujarat with any of the states ruled by the Congress,” Rupani added.
Meanwhile, the Congress termed the government’s latest announcements as a knee-jerk reaction to the Rahul Gandhi’s attack on the government’s “failure” on economic front. “The manner in which people of Gujarat are positively responding to the visit of Rahul Gandhi has made the BJP uncomfortable. They are now scared and so have gone on an announcement spree so close to the elections. The Congress has been demanding reduction of VAT on petrol and diesel for so many years. We have also been asking the government to promote the MSMEs,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.
Proposed GIDC estates Assembly Seats:
*Devgam Khirsara Rajkot Rural
*Dhrol Jamnagar Rural
*Dahod Expansion-Kharedi Dahod
*Narigam Bhavnagar West
*Madhiya Bhavnagar Rural