The annual growth rate of Private Security Sector (PSS) in India is 22 percent whereas their internal shortfall is about 30 percent. They have the capacity to generate huge numbers of jobs for the rural and urban poor. The size of the PSS is more than the combined strength of Army, Navy, Air force and Police. The PSS has the unique distinction of being largest corporate tax contributor to the National Exchequer.
Despite of this proud position, PSS is seriously suffering due to defective policies of concerned Ministries and bureaucratic mind set and rigid attitude of the officials. Asit Manohar talks to Kunwar Vikram Singh, Chairman CAPSI (Central Association of Private Security Industry) and fishes out their problems and contributions which are going unnoticed. Edited excerpts:
Private Security is expected to generate near Rs 80 billion revenue by 2020 but still the sector is not in priority of the government. What are you doing in this regard?
Not just Rs 80 billion business per annum by 2020, a recent research jointly done by KPMG, E&Y and Deolite reveals that the Private Security sector is growing at 22 percent per annum and the sector is largest contributor of the corporate tax and highest job creator among urban youth. But, it’s still not into the priority of the government. It is creating hell lot of problems for the people looking forward to foray into the security sector. For example, if somebody wants to incept a private security agency, it would take a long time to get his license apart from that the way they are treated by the various government agencies, the person needs to show a huge amount of character to remain grounded for his will.
To overcome this hassle, we have put forward our demand to the Ministry of Home Affairs and its subsidiaries in states to make this process like any other business institutions so that a person should be able to get his license as any of the startup has to go through. The government of India has assured us to make amendment into the Private Security Agency Regulation Bill to address our various issues.
What are the major issues that you think this amendment would solve?
The amendment would not only solve our issue related to technological advancement and supply of arms to our security guards. Once the amendment is done, it would become easier for us to get the licensing work done on time which is a hectic task for new entrant into the sector.
But, what about the skill gap constraint that majority of the private security agencies are facing these days?
For that, we don’t need much of government support as we can do it on our own. We have introduced National Occupational Standard where a boy or girl wishing to foray into private security sector can go for two year program and after that proper certification for the respective jobs available in our sector. Candidates holding this certificate are taken seriously by the private security agencies and such candidates can get better jobs than mere security guards. There is a public perception that security agency job means security guard but truth is completely opposite. In fact, like any other sector, there are multi-layers of jobs in private security sector too. We are going to introduce Trans National Occupational Standard in which a certified candidate would be eligible for overseas jobs and Indian private security agencies would be able to hire Indian professionals overseas which they are not able to get today.
What kinds of jobs that a boy or girl holding this certificate can expect?
Jobs like private detective, security analyst, CCTV supervisor, alarm signal specialist, business establishment investigator, commissionaire, corporate security officers, lie detector specialist etc. Today, private security agencies have such jobs for Indians in India only. But, once Trans National Occupational Standard is incepted, they will be able to hire Indian for such jobs overseas. And all these jobs are white color jobs.
Can you share the current status of the private security sector?
Presently there are more than 7 million Private Security Guards and Supervisors employed in about 22000 Private Security Agencies (PSAs) in India, mostly managed and run by Ex-Servicemen as their resettlement projects. It may kindly be appreciated that the army personnel retire at a comparatively young age and have to often manage their domestic and financial problems after retirement. Thus, helping them in their resettlement after retirement is a social responsibility of the society at large. Our sector association (CAPSI) is discharging this responsibility to the soldiers of the Nation, by helping them to start their own small security agencies as their resettlement enterprise.
If this is the case, why government is not reciprocating to your demands?
It’s not true that government is not reciprocating to our requirements. They are going to pass Private Detective Agency Regulation Bill in the parliament and to make awareness about security agencies at very early stage; some of the state governments have included private security as subject into their high school vocational courses. Since, rate of school dropout in India is at alarming level and in some of the states, it is around 70-80 percent, and this vocational course is helpful for those who want to become a security guard.
What exactly, the government can do to help private security sector to blossom at rapid speed?
If they grant Para Police status to private security sector, majority of our problems would get solved. In fact, I have demanded this at the United Nations as well so that the government can be able to send private security professionals as part of their peace keeping forces in various parts of the world which are engulfed by various insurgent groups. It would help us fetch true recognition to the community safety which private security sector is giving to the society in maintaining law and order without any notice.
There is huge buzz about demonetization and GST hitting the business of various startups. Is this the case with private security too?
Being a private security professional, I am not qualified to talk about other sectors but yes, we have been deeply hurt by GST. I have even written to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister to take note of it. Hopefully, there would be some respite for us when they will evaluate the impact of GST.
What are the problems that you raised while addressing the GST woes?
All PSAs work on 3 months credit system due to market conditions created by the End Users of our services. But by the beginning of each month we are mandatory required to pay wages to our employees, contribute to ESI, EPF, and Income Tax (and now GST), whereas our bills / invoices are cleared by Service Takers after about 3 months. Now being faced by the entire private security sector is payment of GST. We do not in any way oppose the imposition of GST, but the onus to pay the GST should fall upon the Service Takers, who clear our bills / payments (including taxes) only after a lapse of about 3 months as per prevailing market practices. We as service providers are not able to comply with statutory requirements which are punishable under the law, if not adhered. We do not get any working capital from Banks to sustain & support our business, & are being driven to the verge of closure of our businesses.
So, we want GST should be made on Reverse Charge basis so that Service Taker is made to pay the GST and not the Service Providers of the Private Security Sector. Unfortunately, no relief has been forthcoming & the private security sector is getting driven to a pathetic situation.