Gift City project awaits land-acquisition funds

Gift City has the potential to transform Kochi into one of the biggest financial centres in the country, say officials.

Published: 11th September 2023 06:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th September 2023 06:58 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose.

Express News Service

KOCHI: The state government will be eyeing major knowledge-based players for its ambitious Global Industrial Finance and Trade City project. Nearly 30-35 per cent of the land acquisition for the 358-acre project, coming up in Ayyampuzha panchayat near Angamaly – 10km from Kochi airport – has been completed. The remaining acquisition work will be carried out once the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) allocates funds, said sources.

“Of the 10 steps involved in land acquisition for the project – which will be the second of its kind in the country – we have completed seven. The remaining ones can be completed once funds are released,” said a source. In July, the state industries minister held a meeting with representatives of the United States taxation industry. “The officials noted that Kerala has top-notch human resources. Along with skilled professionals, it enjoys the advantage of being an investment-friendly destination,” Industries Minister P Rajeeve said in a social-media post. 

“The Gift City project will act as a hub integrating top foreign and fintech firms. This will create an entry point for US-based firms to invest in the state,” the minister said. Under construction in Gandhinagar, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City is set to be India’s first operational greenfield smart city and international financial services centre.

Gift City has the potential to transform Kochi into one of the biggest financial centres in the country, say officials. Considering the scope and potential of the project, state principal secretary Suman Billa said it is a tremendous opportunity for Kerala. The US is facing a shortage of talent in its Internal Revenue Service (IRS), primarily linked to handling tax returns. 

“They are looking to outsource the work. In Kerala, we have the talent and the training resources, making our graduates eligible for the job. The delegation that met Minister Rajeeve comprised officials of big MNCs based in the US. Members were keen on tapping the talent pool here. Once our graduates are trained, the next stage will involve their deployment.

Gift City offers a neutral tax territory for American companies. From this point of view, we can enable the next level of business, including shipping and insurance, which can happen all out of Gift City. We proposed the project to them in this context,” said Suman. “The project is a joint venture between central and state governments. Once the money is deployed, we will be able to complete the land acquisition within 12 to 18 months,” Suman added.

The project stands to benefit Kerala in many ways. “It has the potential to attract ship-broking and ship-insurance businesses, which currently operate out of West Asia if good tech talent can be made available at a competitive cost. Banking, investment and fintech firms will also be interested. We are also exploring the possibility of foreign universities setting up offshore campuses here.

“We have received cabinet approval for Rs 850 crore and are awaiting KIIFB funds, after which 19(1) and 21(1) notifications for land acquisition will be published. The preliminary notification has been completed, and we are awaiting the final notification to begin land possession,” a project official said, adding that the entire project is expected to be completed by 2030. As per the proposal, 100-150 acres will be developed under phase 1, which will focus on sectors such as finance, banking and insurance, besides knowledge hubs.

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