Kerala fast Emerging as Business Destination

Fast-tracking the campaign to position Kerala as a thriving industrial state and hotbed for investments, Mr. Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala made an impassioned plea to top guns of the industry and corpo­rate world to forge durable partnerships with God’s Own Country and propel its mission of an inclusive, empow­ered and sustainable growth.

“The State Government has a clear development agen­da. It is tailor-made to attract investments to the state. We aim to create an enabling environment to facilitate the transformation of the state into a business hub and a preferred investment destination,” Mr. Chandy told a high-profile gathering of corporate honchos and business tycoons as well as heads of trade missions from abroad.

Mr. Chandy, flanked by his Industries Minister Mr. P K Kunhalikutty and Finance Minister Mr. K M Mani, said PPP, with a Single Window clearance mechanism, will be the bedrock for all mega projects in the state. The government has constituted a high level empowered committee to look into new projects and approve special facilitation, incentives and concessions.

Describing business and corporate leaders as “our emi­nent stakeholders”, he said Kerala’s development initia tives are consensus-based and his government has taken onboard all political parties with regard to investments in mega projects. “We intend to ensure that Kerala’s eco­nomic growth is continuous, unaffected by political and governance changes,” he added.

The meeting organized in association with CII and NASSCOM, was part of a string of national and inter­national road shows the state government has planned in connection with its ambitious ‘Emerging Kerala’ 2012 \" a Global Connect opportunity, to be held at Kochi from September 12 to 14. The Kerala State Industrial Develop­ment Corporation (KSIDC) is the nodal agency for the summit, which is intended as a biennial event.

Offering a raft of incentives and investment opportu­nities in Kerala, Mr. Chandy said the state government has finalised a number of mega infrastructure projects for which it is seeking domestic and foreign investments. Some of these projects are High Speed Rail Corridor connecting Thiruvan­thapuram to Mangalore (Rs 118,000 crore), Kochi Metro Rail (Rs 4500 cr), Kannur International Airport (Rs 4500 cr) and National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (Rs 52,000 cr).

The other projects are Vizhinjam International Sea Port, Petroleum Chemicals and Petro-chemicals Invest­ment Region, Smart City project, Mono Rails in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikkode, Gas-based power plants and Titanium Sponge Plant.

Giving a firm assurance that his government is willing to go extra mile in helping the interested entrepreneurs with proactive measures, he said Kerala has worked out a fair and equitable Labour Policy, which is evident from the fact that the state did not lose a single man-day on account of labour strike in the last one year.

“Labour problem and trade union militancy are mat­ters of the past and there is no place for such issues in a highly competitive business environment. Anyway, trade unions have now become disciplined and cooperative,” he said. He warned of strict action against those indulging in disruptive activities.

“In today’s knowledge economy, Kerala has the right ingredients to invest and nurture business,” he said, and reeled out factors like the state’s skilled manpower extremely low employee attrition rate, and a large con­sumer market of over 33 million people, in support of his contention.

The Chief Minister and his key ministers had earlier met top business leaders and overseas diplomats in New Delhi on April 20, signalling the launch of a six-month-long build-up to one of the biggest investment branding exercises the state has ever undertaken.

Kerala offers many advantages as an investment des­tination, including a transparent and responsive admin­istration, high literacy rate, skilled manpower, one of the lowest attrition rates in the country, top class infrastruc­ture, proximity to the international air and sea routes and unparalleled data/telecom connectivity.

The state government has identified 10 thrust sec­tors for investments. These include IT and IT Enabled Services, Tourism and Medical Tourism (Ayurveda), Healthcare, Infrastructure devel­opment (Road, Rail Power, Water Supply, Sewage), Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and other sunrise sectors, Knowledge/Education sector and Water Technologies and Inland waterways.

Addressing the conclave, Kerala In­dustries and IT Minister P K Kunhali­kutty said the state has a clear develop­ment agenda. “The government gives top priority to PPP in the proposed mega projects, and it will facilitate land and other statutory clearances for these projects. We are laying more emphasis on industrial infrastructure at par with the global standards,” he pointed out.

He said Kerala would promote private investments and FDIs for development of world class infrastructure development. A new SEZ Policy is being finalised in line with the existing policy of Government of India.

Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani said the state would extend a package of incentives and the public-pri­vate partnership is one of the key strategies in the scheme of things. “Collaborative efforts are needed to indistria­lise Kerala,” he said, while assuring that land acquisition would not be a problem.

The meeting was attended by representatives of a number of companies from both the public and private sectors, including Reliance Industries Ltd, Hinduja Group, SBI Capital Markets Ltd, Tata International Ltd, Kotak Mahindra Capital, Mahindra and Mahindra, J P Morgan,BPCL, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, Marico India Ltd, Johnson & Johnson Ltd, iGATE and Hirco Developments Pvt Ltd.

The conclave also saw the presence of representatives from US Asia Business Forum, Consulate General of Argentina, Consulate General of Canada, Mexican Trade Commission (ProMexico), Export Import Bank of India, Yes Bank Ltd, IndusInd Bank Ltd, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd and KPMG, among others.

Leading entrepreneurs from Kerala like Mr. B K Pato­dia, Chairman & Managing Director, GTN Textiles; Mr. Sanjaya Mariwala, Managing Director, Kancor Ingre­dients Ltd, and Mr. Navas Meeran, Chairman, Eastern Group, shared their success stories.

Showing faith in Kerala’s resurgence and business-friendly environment, a representative from Tata Con­sultancy Service (TCS) announced that it would set up a second training centre for 10,000 students.

In his welcome remarks, Mr. V Somasundaram, Additional Chief Secretary (Industries), said Emerging Kerala would be different from a regular investors’ meet as it would be a continuing event. “It would be a regu­lar forum for interactions between different sectors of economy,” he pointed out.

Industries Secretary and KSIDC Managing Director Alkesh Sharma said Emerging Kerala, a biennial event, will not be exactly a one-off investors’ meet. “Signifi­cantly, it will be a platform to discuss and deliberate the future course of Kerala economy.” he observed.

Mr Sharma said the state government would facili­tate a CEO Summit, B to B and B to G Meets during the event, where over two dozen sectors will be show­cased. These include IT and IT enabled services, tourism and medical tourism, food and agro processing, ports, shipbuilding and logistics, education and infrastructure development.

“It signals Kerala’s growing desire for productive engagement with businesses and investors around the world. Be our partners, and we promise to sustain our valued partnerships with you,” he added.

Proposing a vote of thanks, Mr. C J George, Vice Chairman, CII Kerala State Council, Kerala has distinct advantages in certain areas, and a deliberate attempt has been made to showcase those industries in the investors’ summit which are ideal for the state.

“IT companies like Infosys and TCS are expanding in Kerala, and it shows their confidence in the said,” he concluded

 
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