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Sukhbir to visit Pakistan, explore deeper trade ties

Sunday November 04, 2012 10:44:10 AM, IANS

Gurgaon: Hailing the opening of trade ties through the Attari-Wagah border, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said he would visit Pakistan Monday to explore strengthening trade between "eastern" and "western" Punjab (in Pakistan).

Badal said that Punjab had been waiting to be allowed to export its agricultural produce, including wheat and paddy, directly to Pakistan and Central Asian countries, as also Iran, by road.

He said that the opening of the Attari-Wagah border for trade was a "game-changer," with a potentially huge impact for all of north India.

The deputy chief minister was addressing the 'Invest North' convention organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Gurgaon Saturday.

He said that once import and export of nearly 6,000 items was allowed through the Attari-Wagah land route, 30 km from Amritsar, the economic profile of north India could change.

At present, India and Pakistan allow trade of only 137 items through the land route. Over 6,000 items can be traded between the two countries through sea, via Mumbai and Karachi.

India has set up a Rs.150 crore state-of-the-art integrated check post (ICP) to handle greater passenger and cargo traffic on its side at Attari.

Badal also urged the union government to expedite talks for laying oil pipelines from Iran and Kazakhstan to India, so that the energy bill could be substantially reduced.

The deputy chief minister also suggested that the central government should not foist standardised programmes and policies across the country. He said the states should be allowed the leverage to mould schemes according to their own requirement.

Offering his opinion on how best to minimise corruption, Badal said that making e-tendering mandatory could save project costs and break the nexus between engineers and contractors.

He said that if e-tendering had been used by the central government in the allocation of spectrum or coal blocks, allegations of corruption could have been avoided.

Sukhbir Singh Badal also said that the minimum support price of wheat needed to be raised. He said he was shocked that a decision had been taken not to raise MSP of wheat, and alleged that the government at the centre was biased against Punjab.






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