Migrant workers are vital to Tamil Nadu’s economic development. In a number of ways, the State government has been open to them, said Industries Secretary S Krishnan.

Replying to a question on migrant workers at a seminar, Krishnan said, “We take a compassionate and social view of this. Industries in this State have benefited significantly from the social dividend through the welfare approach of successive governments,” he said at a road show on export promotion through Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in Tamil Nadu organised by FICCI, Madras Export Processing Zone, Sipcot and the Export Promotion Council for EoUs and SEZs.

“When a few workers died in an unfortunate accident, we equated the benefits that we pay from the Construction Welfare Board and said this means no difference if the person is a resident of Tamil Nadu or of another State. As long as they are contributing to economic activity here, we need to compensate all of them, “he said. “We have never been against migrant labourers at all,” he added.

During the Covid pandemic, the State government paid migrant workers in Tamil Nadu to go back to their respective states. The State government also paid for those Tamil Nadu workers living in other states to return to the State. “We paid on both sides. We did not make a fuss about it,” he said.

Encouraging exports

There is a clear intent by the Tamil Nadu government to encourage exports and a clear intent to facilitate exports. The State government intends to do it fundamentally by giving you [trade] a State with quality human resources, infrastructure, ease of doing business, and a way to bring down the transaction cost, and ensure that you are able to manufacture competitively for the world from Tamil Nadu. Please take advantage of this opportunity, Krishnan urged exporters.

“As a State government, it is not as if we feel that exports are not a concern. The State government has put out an export strategy. Our dream would be to see Tamil Nadu would be the SEZ as a State completely. It does not really matter whether you invest in this part of Tamil Nadu or that part of the State. We will still be competitive and export, “said Krishnan.

One recurring theme that came from the recent visit to Davos was that anyone is increasingly looking for resilience in supply chains and diversification of supply chains. This is where the opportunity lies for India, and specifically for Tamil Nadu, he said.