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A bold plan well-executed

Tamil Nadu’s second Global Investors Meet 2019 held on 23 and 24 January, ended with the promise of investments of over Rs 3 lakh crore. 304 MoUs signed, six partner countries, over 5000 delegates and participation by over 250 companies from 10 countries were among the major highlights.

Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat launched the concept of Global Investors Meet as a biennial event from 2003. Every successive Vibrant Gujarat Meet has resulted in Gujarat getting increased investments and also attracting global notice.
This success has spread to many other states which vie with one another to hold such meets. For good reason: I have covered TN GIM 2015 and GIM 2019. I have witnessed focused efforts on the part of the government leaders, both political and civil service, who worked with such passion and determination. Such an attempt is necessary to showcase the very many attractions of the state – its infrastructure, skilled manpower, tourist attractions, the repeated investments made by several large corporations like Foxconn, MRF, Hyundai Motors, Saint-Gobain…

Large public sector investments…

Look at the two large investment announcements at the GIM: the new refinery and petrochemical complex involving an investment of Rs 27,000 crore in Nagapattinam and Indian Oil planning to invest around Rs 16,641 crore on expanding its retail outlets, oil and lubricant terminals, LPG infrastructure, lube complex, gas pipeline and gas distribution… These have been the result of persistent efforts to strive for investments and getting succeeded in firming these up for GIM.
In extensive travels through the state over the last four months, we found several things happening, not found in a comparable measure in most other states. Importantly, the spirit with which road shows were conducted in several countries. That resulted in attracting large delegations from these to see for themselves the attractions for investment.
Look at some of the recent developments like the focus on electronics, the stellar record of start-ups, angel investing, funding tapped from several private sources apart from government and banks and the increased investments made on research and development. Saint-Gobain, Ford, Mahindra & Mahindra and a couple of hundred companies at the IIT-M Research Park are engaged in advanced research and development efforts. These are application-oriented with colossal potential for revenues, unlike the past.
Don’t we need to publicise these?

Women employment in profuse

At Feng Tay and at Foxconn, we found women employed in large numbers; over 20,000 women at Cheyyar and Bargur and around 14,000 at Foxconn, Sriperumbudur. These are women drawn from the surrounding rural areas of the plants or across the state, with modest education. The Taiwanese companies have excelled in introducing training systems that enable even not literate young women to be trained in less than two months to work on sophisticated assembly lines. These companies promise to multiply such efforts several fold over the next five years. The Foxconn Chief enthusiastically talks of a trillion dollar (Rs 70 lakh crore) of electronics products that would be produced in India with Tamil Nadu accounting for a tenth of this. This is 35 times the current annual revenues of the state. Should this not to be publicised?

TECTONIC CHANGES…

Look at the two tectonic changes in Chennai:
The Metro Rail that has brought about a Hanuman jump in the comfort and speed of travel, has completed the first phase with two lines. Recently the plan to construct three more lines at an investment of around Rs 69,000 crore has been finalised. There is the promise of Chennai metro catching up with Delhi by several lines at different levels criss-crossing the metro and its extended parts in the west, the north and the south. Managing Director, P K Bansal said that Chennai will have the best metro rail system. Evidently, this deserves to be told to the world.
Gujarat maks the best use of natural gas and accounts for bulk of its consumption in the country. Fertilizer plants, power plants, steel mills, public transport and domestic piped gas, chemicals, pharma companies, ceramic units and engineering units… all use gas to great benefit.
Indian Oil has set up an LNG terminal at the Ennore Port for importing 5 million tonnes of compressed natural gas. The state is now getting ready to supply gas through pipelines to industries, transportation and domestic consumers. This will bring about economy, elegance and eco-friendly fuel and feedstock. Isn’t it a game changer?
Our teams visited dozens of projects spread across the state. We had occasion to look at the transformation of several regions of the state. Hosur, Sriperumbudur, Oragadem, OMR and the Ennore-Manali to mention a few, have registered dramatic changes. Unlike in recent years, we witnessed mega investments in several parts.
Ennore is a typical example. The development of two large ports, a shipbuilding yard, terminals for natural gas, edible oil, coal, container cargo… L&T Shipbuilding, a cluster of large capacity thermal power plants and petrochemical units in Manali have made the region surge with investments. An estimate puts investments in the region at around Rs 50,000 crore. These have contributed substantially to the comfort in power. One would agree that these strengths should be advertised.
Even as the automobile and auto component sectors have made Tamil Nadu a global auto cluster, vast strides were taken by the Integral Coach Factory evolving the largest rail coach manufacturer in the world. ICF has been producing increasingly sophisticated coaches. Add to this the naval ships and coast guard vessels produced at L&T Shipbuilding. Indeed, these deserve to be told loud.
The state’s financial resources do not lend for large investments for infrastructure and other developments or in the state sector or joint sector projects. Happily, an active medium and small scale sector has been able to build thriving businesses over a vast gamut of industry and services.
The state has a reputation for attracting funding from global multilateral institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank and bilateral funding from KfW, JICA, etc. And there is this insatiable appetite for bank funds: for decades the state’s credit-deposit ratio has been over 100, ie., the net credit availed by the state borrowers is higher then the amounts deposited in the banks of the state.
This ability to mobilise funds by the government and its citizens is a unique feature that deserves to be told.
Now you would agree that the state has enough and more to tell. This explains the rationale of GIM. The underlying objective is to provide a lot of information, facilitation and offer of incentives to attract investments, from within the state, from across the nation and the globe. These efforts need to be applauded and not decried. Every other state, keen on development, has been doing this with good results.
A question raised relates to the fulfilment of the promises made. Even the Madras High Court has evinced interest and directed the state to furnish details. We feel this is superfluous. Companies advertise their products on the expectation of expanding sales. These take place over a period. In the case of promises for GIM, the timeline cannot be defined precisely. The course of construction of the project is dependent on various factors. An entrepreneur is no fool to prolong construction. He would endeavour his best to complete the project and start making profits. Saint Gobain, MRF or Hyundai that have been making repeat investments have been completing projects way ahead of the promised date. Saint Gobain Glass, for instance, promised in GIM 2015 a schedule of construction of its third float line in five years. The company has commissioned it 20 months ahead. Nitpicking on this issue appears just political.
So the question is not why GIM but why not GIM?

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