Heralding a new dawn, reflecting new rays of hope in a new climate, the Global Investors’ Summit 2018, the biggest extravaganza of businessmen and investors, termed as Advantage Assam was held at Sarusajai Stadium Complex, Guwahati on 3-4 February, 2018. It intended to promote Assam on a global platform that included business delegations from the ASEAN Nations, business honchos and trading bodies of India and abroad. During the 2-day deliberations the investment potential of Assam and the North Eastern states were showcased in the context of the Act East Policy of the Government of India. The government of Assam has put a lot of emphasis on ease of doing businesses to woo national and international investors. Observers believe that such a global platform would provide the best support to the prospective and existing business communities to enable to enhance the industrial climate of this region. It projected Assam as India’s expressway to the ASEAN Nations, showcasing the opportunities offered by it.
“The northeastern region will be a growth engine for the country in the days to come and the key for achieving this is by means of transportation. Transformation by transportation will bring extensive development for this entire region. Being strategically located, having geographical proximity with the South East Asian Nations, the augmentation and expansion of transportation and communication will transform the face of the region. We are gearing up for preparing the roadmap to take this region to the faster track of growth. This region requires great deal of investments for infrastructure development and the Centre will provide all the means for achieving the goals. Endowed with immense natural resources, the abundance of bamboo has great potential to enhance the commerce and economy. This region will serve as the expressway to the South East Asian region, promoting further growth of this region, being the natural starting point for development”, said Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, inaugurating the Global Investors’ Summit.
Here, the ease of doing business and economic transparency holds key to attracting investors. This was clearly evident due to the huge response and presence of businessmen here for the Summit. India had earned the fame for having highest FDI of $60 billion during the last fiscal. The government reflects the policies of a young and vibrant India and he added that the government looked forward to the progress of farmers. Modi gave a brief account of the new budget and the allocation of funds in sectors like agriculture, healthcare, education, roads, railways and more.
‘Advantage Assam means advantage Bhutan. Bhutan shares a long boundary with Assam and has close relations with India. Bhutan has opened its Consulate in Guwahati, commemorating the golden jubilee of the establishment of the formal diplomatic ties between India and Bhutan. The Consulate General’s office will benefit tourists, travelling from north eastern states to Bhutan”, said Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister , Bhutan, soon after the inauguration.
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries, promised to invest Rs. 2,500 crore in the state in the next three years. Jio offices will be opened in 150 Tehsil towns, petrol pumps will be increased from 27 to 165 and the number of retail division outlets will be increased to 40 from 2. Livelihood opportunities will be provided to 100,000 people in the state. The Indian Super League, run by IMG Reliance will set up a Football Academy in partnership with the state government. A Centre to promote wildlife protection and sustainable eco-tourism will be set up at a university in Assam. Reliance is the largest private sector investor of Assam, having invested 5000 crore, he said.
On the first day of the Summit 176 MoUs were signed with 160 companies of more than Rs. 65,000 crore. “Government of Assam has signed a historic MoU with Tata Trusts for a Cancer Care programme due to which 18 district hospitals will have Cancer Care units by next year. In this joint venture Tata will invest around 802 crore and Assam government will invest 1000 crore”, said Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister, Health, Assam, signing the MoU at Advantage Assam in the presence of N. Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons. `
Oil India Limited will invest Rs. 10,000 crore, Indo-UK Institute of Health will invest Rs. 2,700 crore, Century Ply will invest Rs. 2,100 crore, Spicejet will invest Rs. 1,250 crore for introducing sea planes, boosting the tourism sector. The Infinity Group will invest Rs. 1000 crore to set up an IT Park, the Medanta Group will invest Rs. 500 crore`for setting up a hospital. The infrastructure sector of tourism saw investment of Rs. 2,347 crore, Dalmia Bharat cement will invest 1,100 crore.
“Five major Oil and Natural Gas PSUs that are ONGC, Oil India Limited, Indian Oil Corporation, Numaligarh Refinery Limited and GAIL would set up a joint company for a 1,500 km gas pipeline of Rs. 6000 crore stretching from Guwahati to Tinsukia via Numaligarh to supply gas to the North eastern states. The pipeline would connect Guwahati, Numaligarh and Tinsukia in Assam to supply gas to Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, making Assam advantageous’, said Dharmendra Pradhan, Petroleum Minister, India.
“Japan has made travel rules easier to citizens wishing to visit the north east in view of the stable security scenario in Assam for the last few years. Japan is interested to increase people to people relations with this region of India’, said Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan to India.
Suresh Prabhu, Commerce Minister, India, made the beginning of the consultation on the proposed new industrial policy (NEIIPP) .The event was attended by over 120 industrialists from the north east in addition to government officials.
The Prime Minister’s address was followed by brief speeches from Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister, Assam and businessmen including Ajay Singh, Aditya Khaitan, Rashesh Shah, FICCI Chairman, Dilip Shangvi, Acharya Balakrishna, N.Chandrasekaran, Sajjan Bhajanka among others.
Giving a major boost to the tea industry, a total investment of Rs. 120 crore would be made for the proposed Tea Park at Chaygaon, near Guwahati west. The government of Assam will invest 50 crore in it and the rest will come from the industry.For the expansion of operations in Assam, the Indian Oil Corporation will invest Rs. 3,400 crore in Assam over the next five years by setting up new units as well as upgrading the existing ones. To achieve that end a MoU was signed with Assam government.
The government of Assam has also signed an MoU with National Building Construction Corporation (India) Limited for the construction of a Twin Tower Trade Centre in Guwahati. The project would cost Rs. 1950 crore.
“The Global Investors’ Summit is beginning a new climate of hope and transformation for this entire region. Businessmen have committed to make intense investment, coming to attend this meet from far flung areas, widening the horizon for doing businesses. We are trying to do our best to fulfil the aspirations of the masses, breaking free from the negative perspectives”, said Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister, Assam, addressing the gathering in the valedictory function at Sarusajai Complex on 4th February. He said that substantial gains would be made by the people of this region, taking it to the faster track of growth.
On the sidelines of the Summit, Union Minister,Ravi Shankar Prasad, Electronics and Information Technology, laid the foundation of a Tech City, an electronics manufacturing cluster at Bongara, Kamrup district on 4th.
Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director, India Resident Mission of Asian Development Bank favoured the adoption of the Yunnan model of China to promote ties between Assam and ASEAN. Landlocked Yunnan, having transport bottlenecks but rich in natural resources overcame the disadvantages by going for massive infrastructure development maintaining strong trade relations with neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos.
“After visiting 62 countries, I’ve found this Summit the best managed out of all I’ve ever attended. The north eastern region of India has rich and incredible biodiversity which is incomparable, having multiple tourist attractions like landscapes, forests, wildlife, adventure sports, ethnic varieties, cultures and cuisines, all at the same time.This region can be promoted to a top tourist hub, wonderfully upgrading and managing nature tourism”,”, said KJ Alphons, Union Minister of State, Tourism.
Around 25 MoUs, making financial commitments of Rs. 35,000 were made on the second day of Advantage Assam. Bangladesh is keen on setting up joint ventures with India. Industry majors have advocated increase of domestic and international flights. Cab operator Ola has made an agreement with Inland Water Transport Department, Assam for operating river taxis on river Brahmaputra.
“Assam is as safe as any other place in the world. New tourists’ hotspots need to be developed. Certain picturesque locales such as the undulating Indo-Bhutan border terrain having lush green tea gardens with airstrips and helipads could be exciting for tourists”,said Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister, Tourism, Assam.
Over 200 MoUs making financial commitments of more than Rs.1lakh crore were signed during the two days of deliberations. The Summit was attended by 213 representatives from 23 foreign countries, including a prime minister, several foreign ministers, envoys and business magnets.
The overwhelming response received from business houses of India and abroad culminated in tremendous success of Advantage Assam, Global Investors’ Summit, 2018. The government of Assam has decided to set up a separate entity to promote investments in the state. Naming ‘Invest Assam’, the agency will be a state government agency which will be chaired by the Chief Minister. The agency will help in investment promotion in the state. Comprising professionals, it will help in implementing the MoUs that were signed and promote the ease of doing business in the state. It will also adopt modern management practices. The agency will be formed within a month.