TN working on over “300 leads” to attract foreign firms for investment

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on May 16, 2020

The Tamil Nadu government is working on “300-400 leads” of foreign companies, to get them invest in the State, an official said here today.

Participating in a Round Table discussion on ‘Reviving Tamil Nadu’s Economy’, the official said that the government has been working towards attracting investments from companies in some “focus countries”. He mentioned China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan in this context. The global consultancy, PwC is helping the government in pulling in investments into the State, he said.

“We had been working on this for the past six months,” but now, after the Covid-19 pandemic, the government would do it “with renewed vigor”.

A High Powered Task Force under the Chairmanship of the State’s Chief Secretary had been set up, he said. The task force will have its first meeting tomorrow (Saturday). The force will give its interim report in a month and its final report in two months, the official said.

Once the final report is received, the State will come out with “a very strong package”.

The participants, who were from the Tamil Nadu industry, voiced their views and demands. One point that came from Venu Srinivasan, Chairman and Managing Director of TVS Motor, was that: The State, for all its other merits, lacked social infrastructure good enough to attract foreign investors – unlike, for example, Gurgaon outside New Delhi.

Observing that this was due to a feeling in the State that “pubs and lounges corrupt our culture”, Srinivasan said that the mid-level manager in a MNC had little by way of entertainment after work hours.

Similarly, Tamil Nadu lacked in schools (of the kind that an expat might want to send his kids to) and golf courses, with the result that most flocked to Bengaluru even though the city is extremely congested.

Srinivasan also pointed out that there is not enough lands in the neighbourhood of Chennai for industries to come up. He urged the government to create industrial townships outside Tiruchi and Coimbatore—but he also noted that “we have been talking about it for 30 years.”

B Santhanam, Managing Director at the French glass manufacturer Saint Gobain, said that since Tamil Nadu accounted for a fifth of all MSMEs in India, the State should strive to get a fifth of the ₹4 lakh crore funding announced by the Prime Minister, for MSMEs. He also wanted the State to build “5 million houses in 5 years” for workers. At even ₹15 lakh a house, this would translate into an economic activity worth ₹7.5 lakh crore. Further, observing that 33 crore domestic tourists visit the State, he wanted the government to strengthen tourism infrastructure.

Hari Thiagarajan of Thiagarajar Mills of Madurai, said that while the State had announced a “very attractive Textiles Policy” in March 2019, the guidelines for operationalising the policy was yet to come. He noted that the State proposed to set up three textile parks – at Ramanathapuram, Salem and Tuticorin – and policy guidelines were required to attract foreign investments into the parks.

Published on May 16, 2020

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