The second edition of the ‘Make in Odisha’ (MiO) conclave has come to an end. Investment intents for a jaw-dropping Rs 4.2 lakh crore were promised by way of 183 proposals. If given effect to, the investments will generate five lakh plus jobs. The four-day event saw participation of 21 states, while 20 plus foreign countries partnered with the state government for the endeavour. The event, no doubt, generated strong optics for the state government. As expected, the mine and minerals sector received the lion’s share of the total investment intents. The sector alone generated business interest of Rs 2.36 lakh crore working out to nearly 60 per cent of the total money promised. Intents worth Rs 1.35 lakh crore were made for fertiliser, refinery, petrochemical, chemicals and plastics sectors; Rs 19,124 crore was intended to come into logistics and infrastructure segments; Rs 3,900 crore for IT and electronics, Rs 2,914 crore for healthcare, Rs 589 crore in textile while Rs 285 crore has been promised for the state’s tourism sector. However, the state’s farm sector, which employs as much as 75 per cent of people, received investment intents for Rs 1,412 crore — which is less than 4 per cent of the total investment promises. While it is too early to assess the real impact of the mega event, the state government’s unalloyed interest to be seen as an industry-friendly government was on full display. The government has succeeded to live up to this image what with the who’s who of India Inc having showed up during the four-day event. The onus is now on the government to follow up with the industrial houses to give shape to their investment promises. The government is now in the last year of its fourth tenure. Assembly and general elections are a little over six months away. It is a no brainer that poll preparation would be occupying a large portion of the government’s mindspace. Hence, the success of the ‘Make in Odisha’ Conclave solely hinges on how the government carries out its responsibilities from here on. A good chunk of the follow-up work would be left for the next dispensation. The first edition of the MiO conclave does not seem to have made much difference to the state’s industrial space. A large part of the investment intents made in 2016 is yet to take shape. This was because the government never had its priorities right. Like last time, this year also a bulk of the investment intents was in the mines and minerals sector. That too, a large part of this investment is in shape of additional investments for capacity addition. Given that the index of industrial production has registered an average growth rate of below 4 per cent and industry’s share in SGDP has not risen exponentially over last few years, it is debatable if the current thrust on manufacturing was right. The agriculture sector of the state would have made do with far more investments than was promised. Boosting farm infrastructure in the state, such as building additional warehousing capacity and upgradation of existing warehouses, upgradation of infrastructure at regulating marketing committees, enhanced farm mechanisation, easy market linkages to farmers, easy availability of institutional funding for farmers, mobility to farm produce and contract faring are some of the areas that call for big-ticket private investments. There is good scope for private players to enter this space. However, the intents for the agriculture sector in the latest MiO were at best patchy and feeble. Companies may be more willing to invest in building state’s farm infrastructure if the state government becomes more forthcoming on what it will offer in terms of tax breaks and other incentives. In the absence of an upfront template on what all the state government will offer, the farm sector will continue to remain a weak link. A chain, read the state’s growth, is only as strong as its weakest link.
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