Curtain Raiser for J&K Global Investors Summit
‘Rule of law established, militancy well under control’
JAMMU, Jan 20: Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu said today that most people in Jammu and Kashmir don’t subscribe to terror and separatism and post abolition of Article 370, the duality in which the people of Jammu and Kashmir existed, has vanished.
Murmu was addressing the ‘Curtain Raiser Investors Meet’ as a prelude to the scheduled ‘Global Investors Meet’ in Jammu and Kashmir, in New Delhi today, which was attended by Advisor to LG KK Sharma, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, business leaders, dignitaries and senior officers.
“The changes that have come in Jammu and Kashmir (post August 5 Central decisions) have removed all doubts in people’s minds. Externally sponsored militancy is well under control. There are a few isolated incidents which are so rare that they can be classified as crime,” Murmu said in his address while making a strong pitch for seeking investments in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, according to text of the LG’s speech released by the UT Government.
Asserting that most people in Jammu and Kashmir don’t subscribe to terror and separatism, the Lieutenant Governor said only 10 percent of the area (in J&K) is affected by militancy and law and order incidents.
“We are tackling those pockets and will ensure safety and security in a systematic manner,” he assured the business leaders gathered at the meeting.
Murmu said last one and a half years (J&K was brought under the Governor’s rule in June 2018 after fall of Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP Government), have seen tremendous change in terms of good governance, delivering development and transforming the infrastructure and social profile of the erstwhile State.
“Rule of law has been established. Long Pending infrastructure projects have been completed or speeded up. Ring Roads, National Highways, Railway projects, airport improvement, urban projects, power and irrigation projects and sports infrastructure are being implemented at rapid speed, many of which will be completed this year itself, improving connectivity and access,” the Lieutenant Governor said.
He said the Government realised that Jammu and Kashmir is known in the rest of the country for “wrong reasons” and the Union Territory grabs the headline for militancy and terrorism but added that these are not exactly the most conducive headlines for investment.
However, he asserted, the ground realities are quite different as following abrogation of special Constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir, the duality in which the people of J&K existed, has vanished.
On governance, the Lieutenant Governor said the good governance practices have brought a sense of discipline and accountability in the Government system. This makes J&K an attractive place to do business, he added.
Murmu said, “We intend to take a leap forward in making Jammu and Kashmir an economic paradise for investors and I would like to invite you all to take the lead in setting up your enterprises in the Union Territory.”
He spoke about the situation that prevailed before the state was converted into a Union Territory and said investments were flowing into the State but the previous governments were not able to catch up with the investments. “The former State was lagging behind”, he said.
He said he was sure that they would be able to meet expectations as many issues were sorted after the re-processing of the Constitutional system, which includes single window clearance system and number of investor friendly policies.
After addressing the domicile issue and keeping the local employment in mind, all the “artificial barriers” created in the past because of the special status have been removed and now all the laws enacted by the Central Government are applicable to the UT as well, the Lieutenant Governor said.
He asked investors to come and see the change for themselves saying “seeing is believing” and there are no restrictions anywhere.
Murmu said that the Global Investors’ Meet — with the theme of ‘explore, invest and grow’ — is a platform that will bring together senior entrepreneurs, leaders from corporate sector across the country, senior policy makers, development agencies, investors from across the world and local businessmen.
“Today’s Pre-Summit Investors’ Interaction has been organised to deliberate with you all on desired initiatives for creating an investor-friendly ecosystem and make you interested in Jammu and Kashmir,” Murmu said.
He said the summit was inspired from the Prime Minister’s vision of holding a similar meet during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat.
“Jammu and Kashmir has a robust economy centered around agriculture, horticulture and the services sector. It has excellent land and water resources, a major attraction compared to our neighbours. We, along with Government of India, are putting together a set of policies and incentives which should make J&K the preferred destination for a large range of sectors and investors,” he added.
Asserting that Jammu & Kashmir is passing through a period of rapid change, the Lieutenant Governor said momentous decisions have been taken in the last six months which have changed the Constitutional order in Jammu & Kashmir, removed artificial legal and economic barriers between J&K and the rest of the country and fully integrated J&K in the true sense of the term.
“The legal architecture and system prevailing in the rest of the country has been made applicable to J&K while securing appropriately the rights of citizens over assets and local employment opportunity. At the same time barriers to ownership of land for industry, investment, urban spaces and private employment have been removed. Barriers to commerce and trade have gone. The people of J&K can now fully enjoy the rights and benefits enjoyed by all other citizens of India rather than just a limited set of rights and benefits. A strong grass-root democracy has been set up with genuine participation of people at the lowest rungs of governance in Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies.
“The Constitutional, legal, administrative and governance set up in J&K which was a major challenge for it to develop at par with the rest of the country and benefit from the rapid economic growth happening elsewhere have been addressed. A simple example is the Lakhanpur Toll. Even after the introduction of GST, J&K had an entry tax which made all goods in the erstwhile State and consequently all other elements in any production value chain, costlier than the rest of the country. Cement, steel, construction material, etc were all significantly costlier than elsewhere. This was a major barrier to trade and investment, apart from the people in J&K having to bear the extra cost of this toll. This toll has now been abolished. Permanent Residency in J&K as a concept has now been abolished. This is no longer a barrier. Children of employees in industry coming from outside will have access to educational facilities and professional education. Their spouses will have equal opportunity to explore job avenues,” Murmu said.
He said it was because of all these hurdles that Jammu & Kashmir had not been able to take advantage of the incentives provided by Central Government. J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, all had the same set of industrial incentives provided by the Centre for Himalayan states. Himachal and Uttarakhand took advantage of this package in a huge way and developed large industrial complexes in Baddi, Rudrapur, Haridwar and elsewhere. However, J&K got negligible investment in spite of having the same set of incentives, he added.
Addressing the summit, Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam said, “Jammu & Kashmir is little known about the places except what we have seen in the films, it is quite different what we know. J&K is not a backward place but it has the brightest and skilled people. I have read in a book that people in J&K don’t die from the disease but from the old age.”
The Chief Secretary added that the J-K administration is re-engineering all the processes and policies to break age-old barriers and creating a progressive ecosystem for investors.
“Easy availability of land through land bank and smooth clearances with dedicated teams to attend to investors will be the priority of the administration. It is one of the most beautiful and pollution-free places to work,” he said.
More than 350 delegates from various sectors and leading organisations participated in the event.
The aim of the upcoming Global Investors’ Summit 2020 is to exhibit the different investment opportunities available in the newly formed UT in different sectors including Tourism, Film Tourism, Horticulture and Post Harvest Management, Agro and Food Processing, Mulberry production for silk, Health and Pharmaceuticals, Manufacturing, IT/ ITes, Renewable Energy, Infrastructure and Real Estate, Handloom and Handicraft and Education, said Kewal Kumar Sharma, Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor.
The event was organised by Jammu and Kashmir Trade Promotion Organization (JKTPO), a nodal agency for J-K Government along with Media Partner Price waterhouse Coopers (PwC), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as the National Partner and Ernst & Young as the knowledge partner.
Artificial barriers held back investment: Dr Jitendra
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances,Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said today that “artificial” barriers, both Constitutional and psychological, held back investment in the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir.
Addressing the Curtain Raiser Investors Meet in New Delhi, which was held as a prelude to the scheduled Global Investors Summit in Jammu & Kashmir, Dr Jitendra Singh said, there has been a huge and liberal funding from the Centre during last five and a half years by the Modi Government. But the irony is that inspite of this, the development activities and other initiatives did not move at the expected pace because of the non-utilization or mis-utilization of the Central funds.
Dr Jitendra Singh lamented that soon after the formation of the Government in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared his resolve to put the peripheral States of North East and other far-flung regions on the fast track of development so that they could rise to the level of the more developed regions of India. It is unfortunate that while the North Eastern States underwent revolutionary transformation during these years, the successive Governments in the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir could not avail of this liberal patronage from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he added.
The Union Territory, said Dr Jitendra Singh, has been created with due diligence and research and the vindication will come very soon with positive outcomes. He said, one of the immediate outcomes of the creation of Union Territory was that the Toll Post at Lakhanpur was abolished and “One Nation One Tax” was implemented under the GST regime bringing great relief to the business and trade community.
Describing Jammu & Kashmir as a land of unexplored potentials, Dr Jitendra Singh said, with each passing day, the new Union Territory will emerge as a business – friendly zone for investors from all over India and attract investments in diverse areas which have hitherto remained uninitiated.
Putting across some of the innovative suggestions, Dr Jitendra Singh said, learning from the experience of the North East, “we could have specialized Apple and Strawberry Parks in Jammu & Kashmir.” In addition, he also referred to the huge scope of Bamboo industry because Bamboo is remaining totally unutilised, particularly in the Jammu region. Similarly, he also referred to the scope for renewable and solar energy entrepreneurship in the times to come.