It is imperative that the state government is and should make best use of the tax holiday extended in the state.
Before that I would like to point out that tax holiday status have brought industrialization to many pockets of India. But then there have been cases that companies shifted base to another tax holiday place after tax holiday ended. I wouldn't be surprised if there are companies, which have moved from other places in India that had tax holiday before, to Himachal Pradesh now.
Why I am mentioning this is because, we in Himachal can only prosper as long as our people have skills. If we have the necessary skill sets, companies would come irrespective of the fact that we have tax holiday in Himachal or not. While companies might move, the skill sets stays with people. This is why companies come to Bangalore, Pune, and Hyderabad etc because one finds people with IT skills there. And this is why the Himachal govt is right in asking the companies to train the local population.
Now how would we go about that?
Well first of all there should be obvious benefit to the industrialists too. The cost imposed on them cannot exceed the benefits they came to seek because of the tax holiday status in Himachal. But then again their demand of 40% local participation can't be accepted because that is the natural pool of self trained Himachalis who have learnt the requisite skills in Himachal and neighboring states like Chandigarh, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu, Delhi etc. We all know we have big migrant population of Himachalis seeking job there.
What can't be acceptable that after the tax benefit status ends, these industries move base again and we are left again in cold, with our manpower still left untrained.
The way I see it is that make the industrialists see the benefits of training local population. To start with, if the tax holiday status is indeed only till 2007, the state government should lobby hard to get it extended till at least 2010 and if possible more. The obvious benefits would be to make companies plan for at least 5 years ahead in Himachal.
Get the infrastructure more developed to facilitate trade in Himachal. Extend favorable rates in electricity, water supplies.
Lobby with railways ministry and get more passenger and freight trains linked through kalka, Pathankot etc.
Develop the roads, highways to connect the major towns through a network of 4 lanes.
Lastly but not the least, the Himachal government should subsidize training courses which provide requisite skills to people.
The way they can go ahead is identify training institutes, polytechnic colleges in himachal and elsewhere, which provide the skills needed. Advertise with people and ask them to get themselves trained there. Partially pay for the training of the concerned person and make a list of those people with employment department.
Now ask the industry for positions they are finding hard to fill and then the government can give the list of people it has with it to them. This way a lot more people would get trained and get work. As for paying the bills for training the people, I suggest, put a nominal tax on all jobs with himachal quota. After all it is only on the initiative of himachal government that people will get 70% of positions reserved for himachalis. Else lobby for central assistance for this program. If the state government cant give assistance in training. Then provide those, who get trained in recognized centers on their own, preferential treatment through government -industry initiative.
Easier said than done. It is an oppurtunity that should be realised.