By Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar:(IANS) The Odisha government has prepared a road map to attract fresh domestic and foreign investment of Rs 1.73 lakh crore ($27 billion) by 2019-20. The plan includes holding road shows in Asian and European nations to attract FDI.
The road shows in China, Japan and Taiwan slated to be organised in October are aimed at drawing FDI in the steel, aluminum, plastic and polymers and food processing sectors.
In November, the government would hold road shows in Brtain, Germany and Israel to tap foreign investment in multiple sectors, including agriculture and food processing, a senior industry department official told IANS.
Industry Minister Devi Prasad Mishra said the government will host a global investment summit in state capital Bhubaneswar next year to woo entrepreneurs from across the world.
A delegation, headed by Industry Minister Mishra and Tourism Minister Ashok Chandra Panda has already toured the US to get businessmen pump in money into the IT, biotechnology, waste management and tourism sectors..
Setting to clock a gross ICT (information and communication technology) turnover of Rs. 4,500 crore in the next four years, as per a project drawn up by the IT department, the state government is trying hard to attract global investors. The turnover is currently pegged at around Rs.2,400 crore.
With the government aiming to generate 300,000 jobs by 2019, it has targeted raising manufacturing growth by 60 percent by ushering in an increase of 15 percent per annum.
“While the share of the manufacturing sector to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) is poised to rise by 60 percent by 2019, it has targeted a 25 percent increase in the employment through manufacturing by 2019,” said the industry department roadmap.
Mishra said the government has planned investment and employment generation in three manufacturing zones – Kalinganagar investment and manufacturing zone, Dhamra Port-based manufacturing zone and Paradip manufacturing zone.
Odisha is also banking on its mineral resources as it has about 28 percent of India’s iron ore, 24 percent of coal, 59 percent of bauxite and 98 percent of chromite.
Recently the state government approved the SEZ Policy-2015 aiming to attract investment – both overseas and domestic. It visualizes Special Economic Zones to be promoted by both the public and private sector developers individually or jointly.
Odisha however registered a significant decline in its share of total investment proposals in 2014, according to data furnished by industry body Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
Even though several foreign companies evinced interest to invest, implementing the projects has become a difficult task for the government.
It is clearly visible from the stalled $12 billion Posco steel making unit at Jagatsinghpur.
The South Korean company was asked to compete in the bidding process on implementation of the amended MMDR Act 2015, but is yet to make up its mind.
“We are ready to give raw material to the Posco company through state PSU Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC). But it should make its stand clear over the project,” said Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick.
Opposition leaders and economic experts are keeping their fingers crossed about the success of the government’s ambitious plans to mop up investment.
Leader of opposition and senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra told IANS: “There is no harm in attracting investment to the state. The government should attract more investment for state’s financial growth. But it should not sell day dreams.”
Noted economist and former Odisha finance minister Panchanan Kanungo told IANS: “During the last 15 years, the government has only made announcements with no planning for implementing the projects.”
He said while it had proposed to develop 14 ports, only one – Dhamra Port – had fructified.
“It had signed MoUs with 93 companies to set up mineral-based industries. But only seven are working with full capacity. Similarly, only three out of 27 companies which had inked MoUs with the state government are generating power,” said Kanungo.
(Chinmaya Dehuri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)