Mumbai business to back NE opportunities

Mumbai, January 16 — Representatives of industry and business in Mumbai, the country’s financial capital, encouraged by recent steps to promote investment in the North-east of India have agreed to try and boost the region?s economy of India after a two-day workshop on business opportunities in the North-east which ended here today.

In specific terms, the Indian Merchants Chamber, one of the country’s oldest and most influential chambers of commerce, said it would send a high-level group to the North-east to explore specific areas of investment and also to help promote the region’s unique business opportunities. It also said that the IMC was could consider partnerships with business organizations in the North-east and also focus on public and corporate governance.

The President of the IMC, Nanik Rupani, announced on the opening day that he was prepared to take a group of senior industrialists from Mumbai to the region to take a hard look at ground realities and opportunities.

In addition, said Kiran Nanda, the chamber’s financial advisor, the organization could connect raw material producers in the region, such as limestone producers and those with medicinal and aromatic plantations with manufacturers and exporters here.

Other business representatives and leaders described the presentations by political leaders, top officials, businessmen and journalists and the Governor of Assam as ‘an eye-opener’ because they had been unaware of attractive transport subsidies, tax benefits and plans to introduce VAT in all eight states of the region in a few months.

“Businessmen don’t need invitations, they need information,” said Viral Shah, a chartered accountant, supporting the view that the north-eastern states needed to lobby seriously in the financial capital. “It is not just the big industrialists who should come, you need to disseminate information about the region on a sustained basis here with small and medium traders and producers.”

The head of an exporters association said that he planned to take a large number of potential investors to the region after hearing of central and state government initiatives and the opportunities to trade with Bangladesh and Myanmar: “If these subsidies and opportunities are there, then it is just incredible. I want to see this for myself.”

The workshop, organized by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research in collaboration with the IMC, drew over 100 participants who interacted with senior area representatives including Lt.-Gen. (Retd.) Ajai Singh, Governor of Assam, the economic advisor to the Assam chief minister and cabinet ministers from Assam and Tripura.

Other participants were Kamal Taori, the secretary of the North Eastern Council, the regional planning body, and Surajit Mitra, Joint Secretary in the Ministry for the Development for the North-eastern Region in New Delhi. Those who attended included bankers, financial specialists, executives from the corporate world such as Reliance Industries and ITC, business specialists from the United States and Taiwan as well as senior editors, local traders and environmental activists.

Assam’s Planning and Development Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma was at pains to point out that insurgency was on its way out and the state government was determined to pull out all stops for investors. Tapan Chakrabarty, Tripura?s industry and agriculture minister, spoke of his state’s strengths in governance and its focus on rubber, bamboo and medicinal plant products.

Encouraged by the response, conference organizers said that more interactions between business and government are planned, to sustain the proposed initiatives.

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