Tapping global pension funds, showcasing India’s first offshore wind project and completing the first greenfield smart city — Gujarat is going all out to secure foreign direct investment (FDI) at the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat investment summit.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Friday pointed out the state’s credentials as a prime destination for FDI at a curtain-raiser to the mega event that has already seen more than 23,000 registrations from companies. The ninth edition of India’s largest investment summit, to be held in January, 2019, will be the last one before the country witnesses general elections around May.
This time, the government has finalised the participation of major sovereign pension funds. Senior bureaucrats have also been dispatched to nations such as the United Arab Emirates and Russia to ensure greater participation from businesses.
Automobiles, chemicals and infrastructure remain the major focus areas. But newer favorites for investment include sectors like renewable energy and new economy after the first 1 gigawatt wind power project was finalised in the Gulf of Khambhat and start-up incubators launched across cities in the state. Gujarat boasts several economic and business indicators that helped it get the highest FDI nationally and become the source of 17 per cent of India’s industrial production. According to the state government, $3.67 billion worth of investments were received in 2017-18.
Among the major showstopping projects this time is the Dholera Special Investment Region, a smart city being built from scratch at the largest investment node on the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Chief Secretary J N Singh said.
The greater investment region spread across 900 square kilometres is set to invite a range of micro, small and medium enterprises, Singh said. It is also betting big on the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), India’s only international financial services centre. Currently, 11 domestic banks including State Bank of India and ICICI Bank have started their operations in GIFT City, with three-four foreign banks in the fray to open shop.
The state government has sent out requests to major multinationals operating in India to shift their headquarters to the city, a senior Gujarat government official said, under conditions of anonymity. As a result, creation of an estimated 500,000 direct jobs and an equal number of indirect jobs is expected, he added. On the other hand, the state government has toned down the promotion of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high speed rail project that has been hit by land acquisition issues, the official added.
The coastal state is also targeting to become a major trans-shipment hub with 48 medium to large ports coming up by 2022, M K Das, principal secretary to the chief minister, said. This will supplement the cargo handling capacity of the state’s ports which already processes more than 40 per cent of national cargo.
Das added this will provide a boost to the state’s position as a major export hub. According to figures by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, the state is the origin of more than 17 per cent of India’s exports, just behind Maharashtra.
The Vibrant Gujarat summit was conceptualised in 2003 by Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. The last summit, held in 2017, witnessed participation from business and political leaders from over 100 countries.