Beyond industrial policies
INDUSTRIAL policies so far introduced by different governments in the past read fine on paper. They are full of rosy projections and apparent concessions to potential industrialists. But theories and superficial concessions do not really prompt such a vital objective as industrialisation. The attainment of it calls for recognising the hard realities or problems for what they are and effectively addressing them.
Among the hardest core problems facing industries are law and order related ones, poor power supply, lack of supporting infrastructures, duty anomalies that encourage import of equivalents of locally produced products, trade unionism without a vision, etc. A country's industrial policy ought to identify these very formidable barriers to industrialisation and also spell out a course of action to be followed in order to create the motivation for establishing new industries and efficiently running the existing ones.
The recommendations need to include what things must be done by the police and the administration to protect the operators of industries from extortionists and other gangsters. The police may be specially deployed in the industries to maintain the peace. They should be also briefed and trained to head off industrial troubles. Power insufficiency and its unreliable transmission of power cause huge production losses and are disincentives for new industrial investors. A system must be devised and operated to ensure round-the-clock reliable power supply to the industries. The pervasive bureaucracy and official corruption that an intending industrial entrepreneur faces at every step must be reduced to a minimum through proper policies and their execution. Duty anomalies need to be rationalised to create a level playing field for local producers against imported or smuggled goods. Responsible trade unionism only must be encouraged.
Only all of these measures, sincerely pursued, can lead to a faster growth of industries and their improved functioning. Not any amount of inspirational verbiage on paper is going to help as in any way to promote the cause of industrialisation.
A K M Ahsan Ali