Just one day left for the landmark event that is about to happen in Visakhapatnam. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Partnership Summit 2016 will be hosted in the new state of Andhra Pradesh with fresh prospects, in the midst of great anticipations. The 22nd edition of the Partnership Summit will be held from 10th of January to 12th at the APIIC Ground, Harbour Park, Vizag. There is a lot of curiosity and expectations from this summit, with people of Andhra closely seeking answers to many uncertainties.
Kostalife catches up with Suresh Rayudu Chitturi, Chairman, CII, Andhra Pradesh just in time to tap in the wave of excitement.
Mr Chitturi speaks with Deepa Balasubramanian in an exclusive interview, explaining the core agenda of the CII Summit this year, when the new state of Andhra Pradesh will be showcased to the world as a potential fount for business interests, investments and industrialization.
CII Summit 2016. All eyes are now on the new state of Andhra Pradesh, especially Amaravati. What is the real time anticipation among the investors and participants?
People are looking at Amaravati as a city, CII as such will be gazing at the new capital as the state’s biggest investment opportunity. This summit will be all about the industry. No single ticket in any way will bring that 1 lakh crore investment in the next 10 to 15 years. People seem to have a laid back thought process where they tend to put it all on the leaders. This is actually both dangerous and unproductive. If we all get in and participate, the same numbers would mount to 3 Lakh Crore or even more. The CM is doing this for all of us and not himself. People of the state have to understand that they can either exercise their right and be cynical or do something about it. Imagine one million people taking this forward positively. Take the case of flock of migratory birds that travel distances. The leader in the front steers the way but the rest make the flight happen. There will be mistakes made, it is a human design. Amaravati is definitely a great investment and employment generator in the state. But there has to be a collective effort even as development is underway.
What would be the core agenda of the Summit this year?
CII Summit is more about showcasing our state, presenting the advantages of doing business with us and a learning opportunity to trigger discussions into what has to be done and how we should be doing it. This is the first summit in the new state of Andhra Pradesh that is being organized at a large scale level.
There are lot of important people attending this focussed business event where AP as well as India will be represented. There will be some on site MoUs that will be signed. The speculation is also mostly on the number of deals that will get on our plate, but that’s an ongoing game. So, I’m very confident that people will hear big numbers, even though that’s not the main agenda.
In the past 20 months post bifurcation, what do you think is the progress made by Andhra Pradesh in the area of industrialisation?
If you are looking at the detailed specs, we need to revisit the 2020 concept. People still keep saying that 2020 is not happening. It is very surprising that people do not look at the scenario for what it is. Let us go back to the year 1998. Let us put a reality check on where we were and how far we have travelled. 2020 has absolutely happened and is still ongoing. This, in spite of the fact that Mr Naidu was not in power for a decade. That whole foundation was laid by him. And now, the CM is still trying to steer through with his vision, taking off from where he had left. It is all up to us as to how we react to this. We can either do fault finding with the entire process to make it fail or chip in. Life will happen the way we want it to happen. We have a choice of putting our skin in the game and bring results. There has been a massive progress undoubtedly. People of Andhra origin who are now living in other metros are actively coming forward to invest in Amaravati. They feel that 10 to 15 years from now, Amaravati will be the one of the best cities to live in. That is the power of Mr Naidu’s imagination.
What is the undercurrent thought process among investors about the new state of Andhra Pradesh?
The state bifurcation has put us in a very wrong place, with no mistake of ours. I also think that this bifurcation is one of the greatest boon given to us. Without that, I don’t think we would have come this far with planning. We were given a raw deal. Beyond that, it is important for us now to forget, erase and move forward. People outside have tremendous confidence and are ready to invest here. There are some teething issues too. Let us take the example of special package. We have lost roughly over a year, anticipating because of that. We were also trapped in the revenue deficit in between. We have moved on from some real bad phases and now, there is a lot of scope for the new state.
Let us go back in time when Mr Naidu took control of the situation when the state was dealing with massive power shortage. We are now comfortably placed. There is lot of excitement. It is not without reason that we are ranked 130 among 189 countries in the ease of doing business as a nation. And as an individual state, Andhra is doing great. We still need laws like GST and Bankruptcy that need to be implemented within the country as they are very essential. We are operating in an unpredictable system but leaping ahead against all odds.
It is good to have high expectations, but it is also important to have the right expectations.
There is a lot of speculation among farmers about investments coming to Amaravati. Having personally toured along with Mr Naidu to several prime countries, who do you think is actually going to come invest?
I have led the business delegation while touring countries. I think all of them are coming. The Japanese are very calculated and business specific. Once they jump in, they are extremely committed. We need these kind of investors. Countries like Japan prove beneficial to India in terms of business interests. New state of Andhra is under the RADAR of global investors and admirably so. The same can be said of Singapore. They are extremely systematic and organized. Be it the infrastructure, quality of living and even the drain system, everything is clearly sorted in these countries.
Investors from China continue to express interest in AP. Calls keep pouring in, expressing business liaisons. We are now easily placed to make important investment decisions. Keeping the farmers’ interest in mind, AP Government is looking at a calibrated approach to develop the new capital in a way that largely benefits farmers. The land allocation of Amaravati is being carefully considered and planned, as the mission is to derive benefits for all those who have invested and contributed. We have to be thankful to the Singapore government that they have designed the master plan so effectively, that too free of cost.
This year’s summit seems to focus largely on the state’s existing industrial corridors and ports. Can you share few insights on what CII is planning on this front during the Summit?
There is one session exclusively for this area. There are a lot of avenues to be addressed on this front. CII wants to conduct sessions at length to identify action points. There is a session on how to build industrialization around our ports. There is a plenty of work to be done. We need to be dextrous about prioritizing our core areas. AP Government is very keen on focussing on ports along with the rest of the areas.
AP ‘Ease of Doing Business’ – will it prove substantial for the development of new Andhra Pradesh?
It’s definitely a great beginning for AP. We have made a great start, even doing well with new tie ups and deals. However, we need to get back and also concentrate on the existing businesses. There should also be an ease of ‘continuing a business’, not just doing one. We have to be also aware that there is a certain lethargy present in the system that is not keeping up with the CM’s vision. It is also easy to say many things right now, but a lot of work remains to be planned and executed. Agriculture and food processing are still in the stages of groundwork. There is great need to focus on the area, and come up with viable business prospects.
How’s the traction towards the Summit?
We had a great response in terms of sign-ups for the summit this year. There is no unlimited bandwidth so we had to close at a certain number. 37 countries have signed up to partner and 250 members from these countries are participating. I won’t be revealing the final numbers because then there will be no mystery. Almost 50 MoU s have already been signed. And this is just the beginning for us.
Do you think this summit will be a welcome wagon to the world, showcasing AP?
Absolutely. There is a lot that will be triggered with this summit on a positive note for the new state of Andhra Pradesh. Fingers Crossed.