Appreciating the 10.5 per cent economic growth registered by Bihar in the last decade, Vice President Hamid Ansari today underlined rule of law as an essential prerequisite for creating an environment that supports economic growth and draws foreign investments.
“The state needs to expand economic growth and maintain its rapid tempo for at least two decades if it aspires to join the league of developed states,” he said addressing a function to mark the 90th anniversary of Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
Quoting from 10th Bihar Economic survey report 2015-16, Ansari said the last decade has seen remarkable growth in the state and some sectors like manufacturing, construction, insurance and banking grew at over 15 per cent during the period.
The per capita income in Bihar has also increased from Rs 7,914 to Rs 15,640, he said, adding that its contribution to the country’s economy has increased from 2.6 per cent to 3.3 per cent during the period.
Impressive as these gains are, these have to be seen in the context of small economic base to begin with, he said.
“States like Haryana and Goa have outperformed Bihar. Bihar still has one of the lowest per capita income levels in the country and lags behind Madhya Pradesh by 10 years and India by 15 years.
“The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation data shows the state’s economy was the 14th largest in the country in 2014-15, having moved one spot from 15th position it occupied in 2004-5,” he said.
The Vice President underlined existence of rule of law as an essential prerequisite for creating an environment that supports economic growth and draws foreign investments. It was also an essential ingredient of proper governance and therefore of economic prosperity, he said.
The rule of law, he said, has three ingredients — the absolute supremacy of regular law, equality before law and access to justice and development of law by judges on a case by case basis, he said.
“Its purpose is avoidance of tyranical laws or their execution in a tyranical manner. This approach has been upheld in judicial pronouncements with the Supreme Court describing the rule of law as a potent instrument of social justice to bring about equality in results.
“Maintaining law and order will thus be essential to attracting investment for rapid growth. Bihar has to create an environment where more businesses see Bihar as a gateway to consumers in the eastern part of the country and as a place where cost of setting up a plant will be competitive with an abundant supply of workers,” Ansari said.
Ansari said Bihar has tremendous potential in farm sector given its natural advantage like highly fertile soil, access to water from several rivers for irrigation and warm climate.
“No less important is the demographic dividend that must be reaped by Bihar with increased focus on education and skill development for both boys and girls,” he said.
The Vice President also offered his condolence to the people ravaged by floods in the state in the past one week.
In his speech, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the government has come out with the investment-friendly Industrial Promotion Policy, 2016 and appealed to investors to grab the opportunity.
The new policy has provision to clear all bottlenecks, except for environmental clearance for setting up a manufacturing unit within 30 days. If the investment proposal is not approved within 30 days, there is provision of deemed clearance, he said.
Kumar said there is a tremendous scope of investment in the field of agriculture, food processing, ready-made garments and information technology. “Arvind Panagariya, the vice-chairman of NITI Aayog had recently told me that Bihar holds tremendous potential in readymade garment manufacturing which scripted economic turnout story for Bangladesh.”
He added that power condition has improved tremendously in Bihar. Emphasising that there was no problem of law and order in the state, he said, “Where underworld flourishes, there is tremendous industrial growth. Crime situation in Bihar is merely a ‘mann ki baat’, as manifested by latest NCRB data which shows Bihar much behind others in crime figures.”
Governor Ramnath Kovind, Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Prasad Yadav and chief of Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries O P Shah were present at the function.
Recognising contributions of some personalities in economic growth of Bihar, he honoured Vedanta Resources founder Anil Agarwal, Bennett Colemen & Company Limited Managing Director Vineet Jain, Alkem Laboratories Chairman Samprada Singh, ITC Limited Chairman Y C Deveshwar and Birla Sugar’s Chairman C S Nopany on behalf of K K Birla.
While Agarwal and Nopany received the honour personally others were represented by their senior officials.