BENGALURU: The State Government is focusing on improving connectivity and infrastructure to attract investment and generate employment opportunities. Large and Medium Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani has sought suggestions from industry leaders. “We will sit with them and discuss all issues. It will help to resolve issues as well as take them into confidence,” he told TNSE.
Most of the investment seems to be centred around Bengaluru. The government has been talking about taking industries to other parts. How successful is that effort?
Not much, as infrastructure is a major concern. For example, there was no airport in Kalaburagi and whatever concession we give, people will still not go there. Except for Bengaluru, Mangaluru was the only airport with regular flights. Belagavi and Hubballi had very few flights and since the last two years, there has been an increase in the number of flight services from those cities. Investors come when there is proper connectivity and infrastructure.
We are focusing on it. My plan is to have airports every 100 km. In 2012, I had also started work on a high-speed train. The idea was to connect Bengaluru-Mysuru and Hubballi-Belagavi in the first phase, Bengaluru to Hubballi and Kalaburagi in the second phase and districts in the third phase. We had also visited Japan twice to study high-speed train systems. However, by the time we started, the government changed. We are also concentrating on developing ports. We are taking several steps to encourage industries across the state and many big projects are coming up in districts. We are providing all assistance, connectivity and required infrastructure for that to happen.
What are the initiatives taken to put Karnataka in the number one spot on the industrial map?
Very good climate, law and order situation, number of universities, engineering colleges and availability of skilled manpower help to attract investment. We are highest in gems and jewellery exports; the IT sector contributes significantly to exports; and the aerospace sector is doing very well. We respond to investors’ concerns and ensure ease-of-doing-business. Along with the industrial policy, we have taken several measures like a special incentive package for the electronics sector, engineering, R&D policy, and an updated electric vehicle policy. We will come up with an updated aerospace and defence policy and also data centre policy. We have identified 11 industrial clusters under the ‘product-specific industrial cluster programme’ and expect nine lakh jobs in the next nine years. A few new clusters like the FMCG cluster in Dharwad, toys cluster in Koppal, bulk drugs park in Yadgir and EV cluster in Ramanagara have been identified. There is also a discussion on doing away with the 99-year lease provision and going for a sale deed after industries comply with all requirements.
Karnataka was number one in attracting FDI in the April-June quarter. Which are the sectors that are doing well and which sectors need a further push?
With 48% of the total FDI coming to Karnataka, we are number one in the last quarter. The IT sector is reaching a saturation point in Bengaluru. We are doing well in all the sectors.
What action is being taken against firms that got land from the government, but are not using it for the purposes it was allotted for?
We are issuing notices and giving them 30 days to explain. We are thinking of taking back land not used for over five years.
You recently mentioned a genuine single-window clearance system and one-time single-window clearance for businesses. What is being done on that front?
We are giving single window clearance with ABC (affidavit-based clearance) system. Companies can start their project the very next day without waiting for any downstream approvals or clearances from different government agencies. However, they have to get all the clearances within three years. Single-window clearance is the highest authority that consists of officials from all the departments. After getting its approval, they need not stop work to get approval from the local municipalities or gram panchayats. They just need to pay the fee fixed by the government and get an acknowledgement. This is to avoid harassment at the lower level.
When will the Global Investors Meet (GIM) be held?
We are thinking of doing it in November 2022. The exact dates will be announced after getting approval from the CM.
Why is the conversion ratio from MoUs to investment less?
As long as we do not provide the required infrastructure, it will not increase. If we give land, power, water and ensure ease of doing business and ensure there is no harassment, more people will come and the conversion ratio will increase automatically. The reason for the 27% conversion ratio after GIMs in 2010 and 2012, was mainly because the next government (Congress) denotified and surrendered lands, and around Rs 2.5 lakh crore investment was to come from six steel plants, which did not come.
We are focusing on investment, but what about jobs?
We are concentrating more on industries that create more jobs and give them more incentives. We are thinking about job creation.
How will incidents like a violent protest at the Wistron facility impact investors?
We will handle such incidents on a case-to-case basis and resolve them.