Yogi govt plans investor summit next month. Will it be any different from Akhilesh's and Maya's meets?
Uttar Pradesh, which has been performing poorly on the economic front, will host an array of prospective investors at a summit in Capital Lucknow next month in a bid to fast-track development.
This won't be the first such meet though for the state, that desperately needs an economic boost. The erstwhile Samajwadi Party (SP) government organised three such summits in Mumbai, Delhi and Agra. Earlier, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government too tried to woo investors with an event in financial hub Mumbai.
So what would the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government do different?
For starters, this time UP is tAn officer is trying to reach out to investors by holding road shows, said an official involved with some of the earlier summits. The areas of interest of prospective investors are being noted down and ground-level teams are preparing to be facilitators.
That the party is also in power at the Centre is also expected to help. President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 20 of his ministers will attend the summit. That should catch some eyeballs.
Naturally, the government of India's fourth-largest economy - that contributes around 8.4% to its gross domestic produce - is looking at making the most of the event, scheduled for 21-22 February.
Miles to go
The government promised jobs for the youth and an uplift for the farm sector, which the chief minister recently said was pivotal to the state’s development agenda.
The demand for free land by many investors might be a hurdle though. “That is a problem area and we are trying to find a way out,” said a bureaucrat who is a key member of the organising team.
Also, the government will have to ensure divisive policies and politics do not scare away investors. Only recently, Adityanath courted controversy with a comment on Taj Mahal, which has been the state’s main selling theme for the summit’s tourism sector.
Another challenge would be translating the promises into real deals, an official reportedly told the media.
This time the UP government has roped in Ernst & Young as consultants. It was engaged by the previous regime too but this government is said to be following its advice more closely. There will be 12 focus areas for the upcoming summit, including agriculture, food processing, information technology, tourism, medium, small and mini enterprises (MSME), manufacturing and health.
Poor track record
In the first four years of Akhilesh Yadav's (SP government) chief ministership memoranda of understanding (MoU) worth Rs 45,000 crore were signed, up from an estimated Rs 10,000 cr during the same period under Mayawati (BSP government).
“Very little of the Rs 45,000 crore actualised by way of investment,” said Industrial Development Commissioner Anoop Chandra Pandey. Letters have now been sent to those who backed out of MoUs to persuade them to reconsider their decisions, he added.
The previous two governments failed to bring about any change in the state’s profile. While the Yadav government was found wanting on the law-and-order front, Mayawati's era was infamous for corruption. Although MoUs worth thousands of crores were signed, UP's economic indicators are hardly better than neighbouring Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh or Haryana.
Even earlier Yadav's father Mulayam Singh Yadav constituted a State Development Council under the chairmanship of controversial SP leader Amar Singh. He roped in corporate czars and Bollywood biggies to sell dreams to the people. Barring some crony capitalists and celebrities who loved dancing to Subrata Roy Sahara’s tunes none chose to invest.
With crime and corruption at their worst in those days, investors preferred states like Gujarat and, especially, Andhra Pradesh where Chandrababu Naidu was on an overdrive cutting red tape and setting up an effective facilitating mechanism for investors.