Home >Politics >News >Kia Motors already committed hire 80% of locals: Andhra industry ministry

HYDERABAD : Ever since the news broke on Thursday that Kia Motors was reportedly considering shifting its plant to Tamil Nadu, the Andhra Pradesh (AP) government has been firefighting the ‘rumour’, and has since categorically denied that there is any truth to it.

In an interview with Mint, Minister for Industries and Commerce Mekapati Goutham Reddy speaks about the issue and the state’s way forward regarding the capital’s decentralisation between Amaravati, Visakhapatnam and Kurnool. Edited excerpts:

Is there any truth to the report which talked of its exit of Kia Motors from Andhra Pradesh?

We are all surprised as much as anyone else. First of all let us understand that there has to be some grouse or misunderstanding (from Kia Motors), but in our case, we have been adhering to the agreement that was signed by the government of AP and Kia Motors. What brought credibility to this news was a respected media organization reporting it.

The fact of the matter is that Kia Motors has said it is committed to staying in AP. They still haven’t reached the full potential of their plant. Even if the company was a little unhappy with us, why would they bring out a second model (from the AP plant) into the market then? I can only think that some vested interests have done this to damage the reputation of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

Do you think this entire episode has something to do with the law that mandates 75% local jobs in AP’s industrial sector?

Even before we brought in this law, Kia Motors had an MoU with the (previous) state government which said it will employ 80% of locals. If I am not wrong, 83% of the company’s employees are locals. Furthermore, on the law, I would like to clarify that a lot of industrialists, including our own, were taken aback when we brought in this law (last year in July).

But we told them to do a roll call and they found that 80% of their employees were local people. In any company, 70 to 80% comprise the labour component. And we said if it is a specialist company (like IT), they can always come to us and take special permission (to hire more non-locals). So, the rule is not very strict.

The previous government, led by former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, had promised to build a global capital in Amaravati. Your government (YSR Congress Party) has done a complete turn around and opted for decentralisation. What was the rationale?

When we said decentralization, we meant empowering local regions. Case in point is Visakhapatnam, which is a low-hanging fruit. So many investors wanted to come and invest there, but they were given a condition that unless investment in Amaravati made, nothing else would be encouraged, so they had to walk back. This was a highly conditional rule and investors were not happy about it.

Vizag enjoys an international status, and we are making sure that development takes place across the region, that is why we created special zones now. It is proven that they (previous Telugu Desam Party government) waned to speculate on real estate and fund it for some ulterior motives.

There is criticism that decentralisation will cause more problems to people. Do you think that the distance between Kurnool and Visakhapatnam will cause more inconvenience to the public?

If you look at our mode of governance, it is to take governance at the doorstep of people. We have devolved it to the panchayat level by creating the village secretariat system (last year). If I can fulfil most of your needs, then where is the need to travel to the capital? In today’s world if someone has to travel to a government office, then it is an inefficient government. We are empowering the local village secretariat systems (one secretariat for every 2,000 people comprising officials from various departments to ensure services reach all citizens).

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