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Odisha bets on next stage reforms to ease business climate

Tue, 22nd Dec 2015 (Source:Business Standard)

Aiming to move up its ranking on the ‘ease of doing business’ index, Odisha has unveiled a set of reforms to offer a hassle-free experience to existing and prospective investors.
Stakeholders who debated on ‘ease of doing business’ at Business Standard's second Odisha Round Table here, were unanimous on the need to diversify the investment basket without losing tempo on resource-based growth.

Odisha chief secretary Aditya Padhee said, “The resource boom has now turned into a resource crisis. Prices have crashed to one-third of what they were a year and a half ago. But, we see an opportunity in these prices.”To ease business processes, the state government has rolled out a suite of reforms, said Padhee.

Elaborating on the reforms, he said, “On the taxation structure, we have one single TIN (taxpayer identification number) for all kinds of taxes. The entire commercial tax machinery has been computerised. We are soon going to have a centralised inspection framework. Inspectors from different departments will go for inspection together and post their reports online within 48 hours. A decision will soon be taken for the rollout of online combined application form. A state-level facilitation cell has been formed to clear investments in three to seven days.”

Odisha has identified five thrust sectors in its latest Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) — agriculture & food processing; chemicals & petrochemicals; electronics; information technology (IT) & IT-enabled services; and textiles & downstream & ancillary industries.
Padhee listed lack of market access and unavailability of skilled manpower as the biggest bottlenecks to draw investments from these sectors.

Odisha industries minister Debi Prasad Mishra said, “The state has pronounced its new IPR loaded with several incentives. We are also creating land bank for industries and 70,000 acres have been identified in the first phase.” Terming Odisha the mineral basket, Ravi Uppal, managing director and group chief executive at Jindal Steel & Power, sounded upbeat on the steel industry's recovery.

“The Indian steel economy will stage a recovery soon. Steel industries in Odisha have invested Rs 1.1 lakh crore. We have invested Rs 26,000 crore and another Rs 8,000 crore is in the pipeline. We have to do some ring-fencing to ensure the domestic steel industry is protected,” said Uppal.

Speaking on the economic slump,  T K Chand, chairman cum managing director at National Aluminium Company (Nalco), said 70 per cent of the industries have reported cash loss. Nalco is investing Rs 35,000 crore in Odisha where it has the entire value chain in the next two years, he said.

Echoing Chand's concerns, R K Sharma, principal secretary (steel & mines), said, “Globally, commodity markets have been facing stress. The downturn in global metal markets has also affected the state.”

Vishal Agarwal, vice-chairman and managing director of Visa Steel, pointed out there was room for further cut in ore prices. He also stressed on the need to scale up investments on logistics.

Arun Misra, managing director of Tata Steel special economic zone (SEZ), and vice-president, Tata Steel, said: “The Gopalpur industrial park has come up at a time when the state government has come out with a new IPR. The SEZ will be fully operational in five to seven years.”

Odisha’s water resources and IT secretary P K Jena said the government through policy interventions was trying to widen investments in IT, ITes and electronics space.

“This year, we have come out with a scheme for ESDM (electronics system design and manufacturing) investors. We will also come up with a BPO (business process outsourcing) policy in the next one to two months.”

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