Subhash Desai: We have not heard from Foxconn in the last two years

  • By Hindu
  • | Wednesday | 14th February, 2018

But nothing seems to be moving on these projects...We have not heard from Foxconn in the last two years. The State government is eyeing another ?10 lakh crore of investment pacts with domestic and global investors at the upcoming Magnetic Maharashtra Summit, Industry Minister Subhash Desai said in an interview to The Hindu. Foxconn, which had said it will invest ?30,000 crore in the State, and another investor Twinstar had committed a large outlay too. While conceding that startups are leaving the maximum city for Bengaluru, Mr. Desai said it’s not yet known if they have gained from the shift. How many of those industries that committed to invest in 2016 are actually working on the ground now?

In Maharashtra, over 61% of the investment MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) worth ?8 lakh crore signed three years ago at the Make In India summit in February 2016 are already under implementation. The State government is eyeing another ?10 lakh crore of investment pacts with domestic and global investors at the upcoming Magnetic Maharashtra Summit, Industry Minister Subhash Desai said in an interview to The Hindu. While conceding that startups are leaving the maximum city for Bengaluru, Mr. Desai said it’s not yet known if they have gained from the shift. Sectors like IT and services will remain the bigger magnet for cities like Mumbai, where traditional industries like textiles are defunct, he said. Edited excerpts:

Does the rural focus of the Union Budget mean good news for Maharashtra?

Maharashtra has a slightly different condition than most of the other states. We have 50% urbanisation. People are looking for employment and coming to urban areas from rural parts. It is the government’s duty to make these jobs available to around 60% of the state’s population which is less than 30 years of age, majority of which is a well-educated human resource. Over one lakh engineers complete their graduation annually, in addition to equal number of technicians enter job market from 900 industrial training institutes. Only industry can ensure employment to this work force, not agriculture. We are working to achieve that.

Two years ago, the state hosted a Make in India summit. You are about to host another investor meet called Magnetic Maharashtra this week. How is it different?

Magnetic Maharashtra aims to create jobs for our population. In Make in India, we signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth ?8 lakh crore. This time, we aim to raise the number to ?10 lakh crore.

How many of those industries that committed to invest in 2016 are actually working on the ground now?

We have managed to convert 61% of those MoUs in actual industries. This is unique to Maharashtra, unlike any other state. We have given land to 800 plus companies, 700 plus companies are at different stages of construction and 665 have gone in to production. Work is in progress with 2,121 in all.

Are you targeting any specific sectors?

Yes. Aerospace and Defence is out target and the Centre’s policies promoting domestic production are encouraging. We have also come up with a policy for it. Corporates such as Tatas, Reliance, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge have the technology required for this. Rafale will set up a plant in Mihan (Nagpur) and Bharat Forge will be producing cannons.

Electric vehicles is another sector we are promoting by giving incentives. There is a Fintech policy is to promote start ups using technology and textile hubs are being pushed to promote farm to fashion linkages. This is an all-round effort to welcome industries.

Will Mumbai have a special mention in Magnetic Maharashtra?

Of course. Nothing is complete without Mumbai. The government is serious about Mumbai’s development with industries suitable for the city. The earlier mills no longer work now and the city cannot have manufacturing projects. But then, employment is required. In recent times, the city and surrounding areas are turning in to IT hubs. The diamond and jewellery business is being given priority.

As per the State’s Economic Survey of 2016-17, the industry growth rate was 6.7% which was lowest in last three years. Have we managed to improve this in the past year?

Of course. But certain reasons like the global slowdown are beyond us and that continues to affect our efforts. But we have to continue our work. Maharashtra is a favored destination for investments.

At a time when all States are extending similar incentives, how would you back this?

A - An investor conducts serious scrutiny before investing money. We have infrastructure, land, water, skilled employees. The State has an ecosystem encouraging businesses. I am not saying it was created recently as it has been here for many years now. Look at our foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. On an average, we get 30% of the total FDI comes to India.

Recently, a study showed that Mumbai’s startups are shifting to Bengaluru. Why are we not able to hold them back?

Yes, many Startups did find Bengaluru attractive. But no one knows whether they have flourished there or not. Time will decide. But we have brought some changes, such as creating venture capital funds, promoting listings in stock exchange, Startup hubs and so on.

Many Startups have investments from Chinese companies. With foreign policy and border tensions with China, does your government have any problem with it?

We cannot stop a Startup if it manages its own funds. They can go in that direction. Everybody knows what has happened with China. Startups are about ideas. If it clicked, any investor across the globe will be interested in it. But it is not only China that is investing. There is Singapore, Mauritius, United State and even European countries from where we are getting investments.

Your government is seen as favouring businesses owned by the likes of Baba Ramdev. Is it a political compulsion?

No, how can we side with a single businessman? We are giving no free run to anyone. The land given to Baba Ramdev was always reserved for Food Park. It is true that it was given in a much concessional rate, but had we not given it, someone else would have. Considering the fierce competition we are facing from other States, we have to do this.

Marathwada and Vidarbha were given special packages to welcome industries. But nothing seems to be moving on the ground, barring a few exceptions. Why?

This is not our investment, but of private players. They will do it only if all their criteria are met... We can’t force them. Though we work for decentralisation of industries, it is finally their decision. If they ask for Pune, we have to give them. We can give them infrastructure, but the place also needs an industrial ecosystem. A multinational company will not set up its project in Vidarbha, just because the CM is from the region. For instance, some foreign companies asked whether we have international schools before setting up a project in Shendre at Aurangabad for DMIC. It is all inter-connected. They have to take care of their employees and their needs as well. But I am sure the investments will happen in future.

Foxconn, which had said it will invest ?30,000 crore in the State, and another investor Twinstar had committed a large outlay too. But nothing seems to be moving on these projects...

We have not heard from Foxconn in the last two years. We gave them an office, showed them two plots. But nothing moved. It could be some other reason also. The company makes parts of the Apple Iphone. It seems they have a problem on that front and we wouldn’t know. Being a Chinese company, they are not very open about it. Even for Twinstar, the company has to decide. It will work as per the company’s plan and not ours. We are in touch with them and hope to see some results soon.

Don’t you think the constant bickering between BJP and Sena adversely impacts the investment climate?

No. It never happens here. Industry is growing. There could protests against individual projects. The overall pro-investment feeling remains the same. This is Maharashtra’s legacy. We have made the process easy and through a single window. The situation is much better now.

Some suggest that the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis interferes a lot in your department...

The CM has the publicity department under him and every decision, though not from his department, goes as his. I cannot help it. I do my work. Whether you like it or not, the system is always pro-CM. I cannot answer all my opponents who make such claims.

The ?3 lakh crore refinery project proposed in Ratnagiri is in a limbo. The CM has blamed the Sena for the situation. What is the project’s future?

I feel he (Mr. Fadnavis) should not have made the statement about Konkan’s Refinery project which showed Sena leaders in bad light. One must understand that it is the Centre’s project and they wanted a coastal site. At the same time, a package for this project should have been announced much earlier to avoid conflict. The delay allowed people to shape people their opinions against the project and political parties too joined in.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was invited for only one programme at the 2016 Make in India summit. Will he be invited for Magnetic Maharashtra?

We invite him for every programme. But after all, it is he who has to take a call and decide which program to attend depending on his availability. Stay updated with all the Mumbai Latest News headlines here. For more exclusive & live news updates from all around India, stay connected with NYOOOZ.

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