Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Jul 11, 2002
Industry & Economy
`North-East Business Summit' in Mumbai from July 19
KOLKATA, July 10
THE Indian Chamber of Commerce, Kolkata, has entered into a partnership with the Department of Development of North-Eastern Region of the Central Government to provide new impetus to the region's growth process.
Addressing newspersons here, Mr Arun Shourie, the Minister for Divestment with additional charge of Development of North-Eastern Region, said the department together with ICC would organise a high-voltage Business Summit every year to present to potential investors the wide spectrum of investment possibilities and business opportunities in the region.
He announced that the first such mega event titled `North-East Business Summit' would be held in Mumbai, the country's financial capital, on July 19 and 20. He said an attempt was being made for the first time through such Business Summit series to take the North-East to where the investors are located.
Suggesting that there was no shortage of funds for the development of the region, Mr Shourie said spending by the Government on the North-East from the budgeted amount was going up steadily. He said the figure has now gone up from 5.7 per cent to 8.9 per cent annually.
The unspent amount by the designated Government departments (required to allocate 10 per cent of their budgets for the North-East) is transferred to a non-lapsable pool exclusively created for development of the region.
The Minister, however, admitted that there was a difference of opinion over the carry-over accruals in this pool between the North-East Ministry and the Finance Department, and the matter is now being examined. He said the Chief Ministers of the North-Eastern States were happy about the disbursal of development funds.
Describing the business summit as a high-voltage event, Mr Shourie said among the participants would be several Union Ministers such as Mr Jaswant Singh (Finance), Mr Yashwant Sinha (External Affairs), Mr Suresh Prabhu (Power), besides other dignitaries such as Dr Bimal Jalan, the RBI Governor, Dr Manmohan Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and all eight Chief Ministers of the North Eastern States. Some 600 industrialists are expected to participate.
Commenting on the negative aspects, which have prevented investments from flowing into the region, the Minister said that there was an urgent need to reverse the wrong impression created over a period of time that the region was unstable and not conducive to investments.
The North-East is a changed place today, and the insurgency movement does not have any ideological links, he pointed out. There is a need to change the negative perception among investors in different metro centres, and that is why the North-East business summit is being planned in different centres on a yearly basis to initiate a two-way dialogue. The summit, he pointed out, would enable one-to-one interactions with State Governments, and provide opportunities to understand the "unlimited business potential in each State.'' Mr Shourie described the North-East as a region waiting to happen, with vast opportunities, yet unexplored.
He said the plenary sessions of the Business Summit would have presentations by senior functionaries with focus on specific sectors such as agri and food processing, Information Technology-enabled services, tourism and energy.
The energy session, according to Mr A.V. Lodha, President of ICC, would have presentations by experts on the large potential of hydel power, gas, oil and coal available in the region, when taken together with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
He described the North-East as a veritable powerhouse of energy at extremely competitive rates. Commerce Secretaries of the neighbouring countries, including Myanmar, along with their business delegations, are also expected to participate in the Summit.
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