Odisha to offer liquidity, relaxations in labour laws to industry to tide over Covid

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Published: June 16, 2020 4:10 AM

To handhold the industry, the state government will shortly announce sops in the forms of liquidity support and certain relaxations in labour laws to help it navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic

We can’t expect that some iPhone manufacturing will out rightly start in Odisha because there are a lot linkages involved.

Odisha, which attracted 18% of total investment in the country in H1FY20, is keen that the pace is maintained despite Covid-19. To handhold the industry, the state government will shortly announce sops in the forms of liquidity support and certain relaxations in labour laws to help it navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic, Odisha industrial promotion body IPICOL’s managing director Nitin Jawale told FE’s Prasanta Sahu. Edited excerpts:

Why investors would prefer Odisha over other coastal states?

Few states can match Odisha’s huge mineral resources base, surplus water and power as well as five deep sea ports (including two under construction). The mix of resources as well as critical strategic placement and infrastructure that has come up in the last 20 years due to the stable government (led by BJD’s Naveen Patnaik since 2000) are very effective factors for investors. In the entire eastern region, there is not much of competition against Odisha (after decline of industry in West Bengal). This region needs to be serviced and we provide industry a readily available launch mode.

What has been Odisha’s share in the country’s investments in recent periods?

In the first half of FY20, we got 18% of total investments in the country, the highest by a state. This is a proof that our stance has translated into investment.

How is Odisha planning to attract foreign investment at a time many firms are relocating from China to other countries?

Our industrial backbone is mining and the metal industry. We can’t expect that some iPhone manufacturing will out rightly start in Odisha because there are a lot linkages involved. But, what we can focus on is metal downstream industry and ancillaries. We already have a footprint of Japan and Germany in a few metal and ancillary industries. Japan’s Nippon Steel is partnering with ArcelorMittal for expanding capacity in the erstwhile Essar Steel pellet plant in Paradip. Hopefully, we’ll be able to attract some other companies which are trying to relocate from places like China for a particular sector which is our strength.

Is Odisha planning new measures for industry, including MSMEs, to create more job opportunities?

We are focusing heavily on MSME development. With a lot of industrial disruption due to Covid-19, an inter-ministerial committee has recommended statutory support, liquidity support and infrastructure support to MSMEs and large industries. These measures, awaiting approval from the government, are aimed at helping them survive this crisis and grow.

Could you elaborate on the succors being planned for industry?

The government can give certain relaxations on statutory dues to the government by MSMEs and industry. Some relief may be given on statutory compliance (as per labour laws) requirements by industries. Infrastructure support, as well as help in terms of procurement, is also being planned. We have told district collectors to lay a lot of emphasis on industrial development, issues related to land and utilities.

What are the recent investment proposals in the state?

Even in this Covid-19 crisis, in April, the high-level clearance authority (HLCA) approved three big projects, each one of more than Rs 1,000 crore. These investments are in areas such as metal and petrochemical downstream.

Which are the sectors you are focusing to attract investment?

The foremost is metal and metal downstream. Then we have petrochemicals and chemical industries; textile and apparel industry; electronics; tourism and health and the pharmaceutical sector. Barring electronics, we have done relatively well in other sectors.

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