AMID ALL hype and hoopla over investments, the abysmally low Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) at 0.2 per cent in Madhya Pradesh remains a grim reminder of the foreign companies’ and NRIs’ reluctance to invest in Madhya Pradesh.
In the Khajuraho investors meet too, none of the 45 NRIs signed a MoU with the State Government, although six of them signed expressions of interest (EoI). The NRIs came from the US, the UK, the UAE, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia et al.
The EoIs are hardly taken seriously unless they materialise into signing of MoUs and eventually implementation. Even the MoUs signed by the State Government in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are awaiting green signal from the investors.
A senior official admitted that “NRIs visited the meet as they were quite excited about the State from Chief Minister’s speech in the Pravasi Bharatiya meet”.
“ FDI flow depends on NRIs and till recently potential of MP was not showcased the way it should have been. Now the State Government is serious about it and, I’m quite sure this meet and the forthcoming global summit would lead to increase in FDI flow in MP,” said State Planning Board vice-chairman, Dr Sompal.
The outcome of the entire exercise at Khajuraho hinges on how many MoUs signed here fructify. “I expect at least 60 per cent of the MoUs would mature and participants’ turnout at global meet would go five-fold,” Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told the Hindustan Times. On EoIs, however, he just expressed optimism. Chouhan clarified that primary objective of the meet was to create an awareness about MP as a potential investment destination and its rich resources.
“Not much had been done to tap the potentialities in the past. We’re successful in doing it this time and it would bear fruits in times to come,” he asserted.
The State Government charged $ 100 and Rs 5000 for registration fee for the foreign and domestic investors respectively. This covered one-way air fare, lodging and boarding, food and participation in the meet.
Officials are wondering how many NRIs would actually be inclined to do business with the State Government. They have a reason to be sceptic. During the Digvijay Singh regime, far more MoUs and EoIs came about in Khajuraho meets but very few matured.
A large number of foreigners and NRIs came, enjoyed the government hospitality, visited erotic temples and returned, never to look back. On the face of it, the NRI participants’ were positive.
“In my one-on-one discussion, I felt CM is serious about his intentions and if, he’s able to continue with the same pace, positive results would come,” remarked Singapore-based CEO of Naats Group, Dr M Naach. Canada’s Romagnino Domenico is also quite upbeat. He’s willing to open a cheese processing unit.
“The CM’s intention is very clear and we’re exploring possibilities,” he remarked. The investors were unanimous in expecting a hassle-free government functioning, land and a patient hearing of their issues and problems both by ministers and bureaucrats.
“I was impressed by the CM’s invitation in Singapore. If I invest here, I expect a clean land and no legal tangles in any functioning,” said Singapore-based Paul Yap, who plans to open fly-ash processing units in MP. Red tape is another area of concern for many. “No red-tape, but red carpet will be rolled-out for investors,” Chouhan announced several times.
Industry Minister Babulal Gaur announced that air-connectivity and roads would be upgraded. “I’ve to apprise about MP’s strengths to my Australian investors, only after they would come,” told Australian Trade Commission’s representative, Chandru Iyer.
Industrialists and associations of MP, however, strongly feel that without improving condition of industrial estates and redressing their problems, the claims of Shivraj Singh Chouhan would fall flat like his predecessors’. “The government and bureaucracy need to come out of their mental blocks,” remarked an industrialist from Indore.