Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is leading a delegation to the UK to find “partners” for Smart City projects and improve the state’s ranking in Ease of Doing Business. The delegation is leaving on September 25.
In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Chouhan said on Saturday afternoon that his visit to the UK has nothing to do with wooing investment. He returned from the US on September 3, and claimed to have got investment promises of over Rs 1,000 crore, which would guarantee 10,000 jobs in the IT sector.
“I am going to the UK because I have been invited by the British government,” Chouhan said, adding that he also visited China in June this year at the invitation of the Communist Party of China. “My visit to China was also not aimed at wooing investments,” he said.
Chouhan said he was invited by Priti Patel, UK’s Secretary of State for International Development to visit the developed European country, and explore the possibilities of finding partners in implementation of the smart city projects in Madhya Pradesh.
Patel was in Bhopal on August 14 to meet Chouhan, and had offered GBP 0.5 million (Rs 4.32 crore) assistance and technical expertise for the proposed smart cities. Consultants based in the UK are now offering highly innovative urban solutions and services like urban green infrastructure design and innovative financing mechanisms to support urban regeneration.
The chief minister is also planning to seek the UK’s help in improving the state’s ranking in ease of doing business. At present, a fierce competition is on amongst the states on the ease of doing business rankings. Some of the states have already engaged consultants like the PwC, EY and KPMG to fine tune their business reforms.
According to a report on ease of doing business by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Bihar is leading the list with a score of 8.53%. Telangana is second, while Jharkhand is on the third position. Chouhan is now keen to improve Madhya Pradesh’s ranking (4th in the list of 16 states).
“We are planning to learn lessons on ease of doing business in the UK,” Chouhan said. The UK is ranked fourth in the world in respect of the ease of doing business, and has been assisting several countries across the globe in regulatory reforms.
The UK is now assisting Maharashtra in improving its ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index. Last year, the UK-India Business Council (UKIBC) and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) had signed an agreement for bring about regulatory reforms.
Conceived under the Make in India campaign, a 98-point action plan for improving the regulatory framework for business at the state level was prepared by the DIPP in December 2014. Subsequently, a wider action plan was released in September 2015 covering 340 points.
India’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business index 2015 slipped by two notches, to 142 from 140 in 2014 of 189 countries covered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants India to break into the top 50 in three years.