Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday drew analogy between Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying as the first home minister of the country persuaded princely states to join Union of India, Modi united India as a nation by implementing Goods and Services Tax (GST) and thereby creating a unified market in the country.
“GST was introduced recently. For a long time, industries, chambers, business houses, and corporates were of the view that GST was a must for development of the country and for increasing the GDP. It was tough to unite princely states (after India won freedom) but Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel managed to persuade them. Similarly, it was a difficult task to forge a consensus among all states for GST. It was tough to protect their interests, to ensure that they don’t suffer revenue loss etc. The UPA government led by Congress could not do it for 10 years. Manmohan Singh government failed to do it. But Narendra Modi united all the states within three years for GST and thus has unified the nation,” Rupani said.
The chief minister was addressing a meet of businessmen organised jointly by Rajkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Union Ministry of Commerce and Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) at Pramukh Swami Auditorium on Raiya Road of the city. He exhorted the businessman and manufacturers to take on China for cornering larger pie of exports market. “Our fight is with China so far as world mart is concerned. Therefore, quality and price of our goods will have to be competitive. We will have to take serious not of the dumping by China. Mass production is the need of the hour. We are planning clusters on coastal zone of the state. On the lines of China, we shall facilitate mass productions in these zones and 100 per cent exports from there itself. Such clusters will come up on the entire coast beginning from Dahej to Kutch,” said Rupani.
Rupani said that the GST will be good for everybody. “Due to wider net of the GST, revenue of Central and state governments will increase substantially. It will be beneficial to all. The government will be able to undertake infrastructure and social welfare projects,” said the CM.
There were 562 princely states in India when the country won Independence in 1947. But Sardar Patel persuaded almost all of them to join the Union of India while also forced a few to surrender by using force. The previous UPA government had proposed to introduce the GST but it could not do so till its term ended in 2014 and was voted out of power after that. However, the present NDA government rolled it out in July this year. The move is hailed as a major tax reform in financial history of the country.
The CM also felicitated 31 three-star and two-star export houses of Saurashtra region at the meet. Those with exports worth more than Rs 650 crore over the last three years are categorised three-star exporters while those with exports worth more than Rs 150 crore are categorised as two-star exporters. Firms which are exporting products like agricultural commodities, seafood, ceramic tiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, engineering goods etc were among those who were felicitated.
Addressing the meeting earlier, RCCI president Shivlal Barasiya requested the CM to build a convention centre in the city and an inland container depot (ICD) near Rajkot to give a boost to exports and business promotional activities.
Responding to the demand, the CM said both projects were under consideration of the government. “Today, I held a meeting with collector and others. We have allotted Rs10 crore for building a convention centre in Rajkot. It will have capacity to seat 5,000 persons. The government has formed a policy in the budget to allot land at token rate to cities which want to construct such centres so that such facilities can be developed at low cost,” said Rupani.
The CM stated that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for ICD project had been signed at Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit early this year but it stuck up at land acquisition stage. “We have signed an MoU and the Central government has approved a container depot in Rajkot. But there are issues with land acquisition. Government of India is demanding that land (for the depot) be allotted at token rate. But existing laws mandate that land for such projects can be allotted at Jantri rates (ready-reckoner of prices of land fixed by government). We shall try and persuade the Central government that the state government is ready to allot land at Jantri rate and we are hopeful of a solution very soon,” he said.
The CM has also said that work on projects of widening National Highway connecting Rajkot to Bagodara to six lanes and state highway connecting Rajkot to Morbi will begin in coming months. Rupani added that foundation stone of proposed new international airport near Hirasar village on on the outskirts of the city will be laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon. “The existing airport is located at the heart of the city…. Debate was on to change the airport. Now, we have decided to develop a new airport of international standards on Ahmedabad highway at the cost of Rs3,000 crore. Land has been acquired. Almost all formalities have been completed and it is our wish that Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation stone of the project next month and the project gets underway,” said Rupani.