Minister for Finance, Planning, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Tariq Hameed Karra on Tuesday asked India Inc to play a participatory role in the economic development of the state.
Addressing a conference on 'Global Participation in India's Economic Development' organised by the India International Friendship Society (IIFS) on the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas at New Delhi on Monday evening, Karra asked India Inc to play a participatory role in the economic development of the state which he added was on the path of peace and prosperity.
"It is time when India Inc could collectively add value to the nation's stake in Jammu and Kashmir by participating in the rebuilding of the state economy," he said.
Karra said a look at the last 50 years or so makes it amply clear that the India Inc seems to have shied away from making investments in the state. He said while the governments, both at the New Delhi and in the state, are trying to reconstruct the state's economy and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has outlined a visionary policy – 'Peace through Economic Reconstruction' - for the state, the private sector is yet to join this mission.
"The governments cannot build the businesses. We can at best enable you to do so," he said and added that it is for the private sector to rebuild the businesses and resurrect the society.
Karra said while in the last fifteen years, the socio-political environment could be argued as a deterrent for the investment in the state, what was the reason for not doing so prior to that? "Of the top 500 companies in India, just one or two had invested in Jammu and Kashmir even in the pre-1990 period," he said and added that even in these cases, the scale was too small to be significant.
The NRI involvement in the state, he said is no different. Karra said no doubt the political issues plaguing the state have hampered its socio-economic development. "But there is a decisive and holistic turnaround in the state's security and development scenario now," he said and added that the state economy is growing at a faster pace than the national economy and the fiscal consolidation is fast taking roots in the state. He said capacities for private investment are being created in infrastructure and manufacturing sectors.
Perhaps, Karra said it would have been in 1990s that the larger Indian industrial fraternity would have looked at Jammu and Kashmir favourably when the reforms made the industry spread nationally and globally.
"But unfortunately the eventful decade that changed the economic landscape of the nation, simply bypassed Jammu and Kashmir," he said adding that the state has missed the most exciting period of industrial change sweeping the country. "But we are now determined to drive change from here and make the coming years exciting for the state and the nation," he asserted.
Karra said private sector investment is not just about money invested in the construction of factories and manufacturing products. He said underlying private sector participation is a value-system of ethics and economics; of professionalism and propriety; of culture and creativity; of energy and entrepreneurship.
"And that is exactly what we need in Jammu and Kashmir today," he said adding that the state has already got multi-lateral institutional finance from the Asian Development Bank and more than the money that has come through this route, it is the strong systems that this investment has brought into the state.
The finance minister said that more than packages and programs – which are in operation aplenty – what Jammu and Kashmir needs the most now, is a cultural change as far as doing business and work is concerned.
"I see private investment as a vehicle for bringing about that change," he said and added that the government has already taken several measures to create the enabling environment to attract private investment to the state. He said led by the prime minister's reconstruction plan, the state has drawn up a five to seven year transformation plan.
This, he said includes a physical connectivity sub-plan, a communications sub-plan and an energy sub-plan. "Along with this, I, as the law minister also plan to examine the legal and regulatory environment that influences the state's private investment," he said.
Karra said the luring package of incentives, from the Central and State Government, has made Jammu and Kashmir an industrial transit-spot and not a full-fledged destination. "Most of the investment in the industrial estates in Jammu is not only doing minimal value addition but is also being driven by the incentives with no long-term objective," he said and added that it is upto the government to create conditions that make the industry stay beyond the incentive period in the state. The second big challenge, he said is to make these investments to penetrate the other parts of the state as well.
Karra was also conferred the Bharat Gaurav award by the India International Friendship Society (IIFS). The Union Minister of State for Planning, MV Rajasekharan, presented the award to him.
Karra has been conferred with the award for his exemplary contribution in the political, administrative and social arena as a minister in the Jammu and Kashmir.