he Karnataka government on Thursday said it will host the much delayed global investors’ meet (GIM) in November to create more formal jobs, considering the state’s shrinking agriculture sector, which has been hit by several natural calamities.
The GIM with the theme, ‘Innovate Now, Growth Forever’, is scheduled for 3-5 November in Bengaluru, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa said at the curtain raiser event at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos on Thursday. Yediyurappa is leading a delegation from Karnataka in the hope of attracting more investors to set up shop or expand their facilities in the state.
Union minister for railways and commerce and industry Piyush Goyal also batted for Karnataka. “You (investors) spread your tentacles to all parts of India, especially Karnataka, which has a robust and congenial industrial atmosphere," he said.
The growth rate of Karnataka is key to fulfilling India’s aspirations of becoming a $5-trillion economy as it is the biggest software exporter in the country, and has one of the largest startup ecosystems globally, besides other high growth sectors such as aviation and biotechnology.
The announcement of the GIM comes a day after the chief minister said that the state had received positive response from corporations such as French 3D design company Dassault Systemes, steelmaker ArcelorMittal, auto components maker Bharat Forge Ltd, aircraft maker Lockheed Martin, Abu Dhabi-based retail conglomerate LuLu Group International and pharmaceutical major Novo Nordisk, among others.
In April-September 2019, Karnataka had attracted ₹32,431 crore ($4649 million) of foreign direct investment (FDI), according to data from the department for promotion of industry and internal trade.
The GIM is a biennial event, but the last such meet was held in 2016.
Karnataka’s growth rate is higher than the national average while its unemployment rate is lower, Yediyurappa said. Unemployment in Karnataka stands at 4.8% for people above 15 years of age, lower than the national average of 6%, according to data from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS).
Karnataka’s problem, however, does not lie in attracting investors, but in ensuring actual investments, as delays in approvals, hurdles in land clearances, and provision of basic infrastructure has been a big letdown for investors.
“I am serious on this score and my officers will work over time to facilitate your investments," Yediyurappa assured investors, according to a statement released on Wednesday.
Delays in ironing out long winding issues on land availability for industries may have cost Karnataka a chance to convert investments totalling more than ₹39,000 crore and a chance to create more than 80,000 jobs, according to state government data.
More than 90 of the 142 proposals totalling ₹49,379.13 crore approved between 2013 and 2019 under section 109 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act for setting up new projects or for existing manufacturing units in sectors such as automobiles, textiles, and mining remain non-starters, including 23 that have been dropped completely.
Steel baron Laxmi Mittal discussed investing in Karnataka, where he had in 2010 said he will invest ₹30,000 crore to set up a steel plant at mineral rich Ballari district. Mittal’s plans failed to take off in Karnataka, but the state government has said that steel major is now expected to take steps to start a research and development centre in Bengaluru.
Karnataka is also coming out with a new industrial policy, expected to be released later this year, and is holding an investors meet in Hubballi in February as a prelude to GIM and to promote investment in other parts of Karnataka as well.