-Dr. K.K. Dwivedi |
A quiet but rapid economic revolution is underway in Assam, the land of blue hills green valleys, diverse ethnic communities and the mighty Brahmaputra. Steeped in rich legacy, culture and history and knowledge, Assam has for long emerged as the tea capital of India. Now, it is drawing its own niche as a favoured investment destination in the country.
Assam: India’s Expressway to ASEAN!
Backed by a strategic location and an insistent craving for transformation, Assam is the largest economy in the North East. With the implementation of business-friendly policies and execution, the annual average growth rate in respect to GSDP during the period 2015-16 to 2019-20 is 13.6%, substantially higher than the national growth rate. Assam’s proximity to countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and other ASEAN markets puts the state in a unique geo-strategic locational advantage.
Initiatives like ASEAN Trilateral Highway, Indo Bangla Protocol Routes, UDAN international scheme, dredging the river Brahmaputra are all focused on improving connectivity for North East including Assam.
Assam enjoys the locational advantage of having access to not only a market size of 4.5 crore consumers of North East but also the 24 crore consumers from the 4 countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar.
Infrastructure led growth!
Steering the state towards an industry-friendly system, numerous industrial infrastructure facilities are being developed. India’s 1st multi modal logistics park under Bharatmala is being developed along the river Brahmaputra at Jogighopa while a similar logistics park has been planned in Barak Valley. The perishable air cargo complex at Guwahati Airport has provided much needed impetus on exports of fresh produce from the State. Assam Start-up Incubation Hub in Guwahati started in 2019 has already provided incubation support to over 100 start-ups from Assam. Modernisation of Border Trading Centres at Sutarkandi and Darranga has improved Assam’s trade with Bangladesh and Bhutan substantially. Sectoral infrastructures like Mega Food Park, Plastic Park, Bamboo Technology Park and other industrial infrastructure projects as the Agar International Trade centre at Golaghat and Tea Park near Chaygaon are gradually and steadily changing the economic landscape of Assam.
Fuelling Assam’s Development!
Assam’s strives to aim towards a gas-based economy in welcoming the new wave of industrialization. Barauni to Guwahati gas pipeline is expected to be completed by November 2021. Expansion of Numaligarh Refinery from 3 to 9 Million Tons per annum with a 1400 Km Crude Oil Pipeline from Paradip Port to Numaligarh is already underway.
State has designed policies that are entrepreneur friendly and promote investment. Among the principal policies available to support investors are North East Industrial Development Scheme, Industrial and Investment Policy of Assam 2019 and Export and Logistic Policy of Assam, 2019. The three policies in unison have the potential to provide the appropriate stimulus for industries to flourish.
Assam is open for business!
To make establishment and operation of MSMEs easier, Assam has enacted the Assam MSME (Facilitation of Establishment and Operation) Act, 2020. This Act will be a huge game changer and aid to Ease of Doing Business in Assam. Under the Act, MSMEs can be established without obtaining any NOC/Permission/Clearance (except Fire & Electricity) and operate for 3 years. After 3 years of operation, the enterprise will have to obtain the NOC/Permission/Clearance within next 6 months.
In addition, several other policies like Assam Agarwood Promotion Policy, 2020 and Assam Cane and Bamboo Policy, 2019 have been formulated by Government of Assam as a part of their special initiative to promote industry sector in the state.
With a strong resource base of Bamboo, Tea, Natural Gas, limestone, several varieties of spices, Banana, Agar and many others, the state is keeping an eye on exports and has established a Perishable Air Cargo Complex at Borjhar with integrated Cold Storage. The state has been able to export local horticulture produce to UAE, Gulf countries, Singapore etc.
India’s 1st Multi Modal Logistic Park (MMLP) at Jogighopa, Bongaigaon built at a project cost of nearly Rs. 694 Crores is envisaged to improve the logistics efficiency and facilitate the Domestic and Export-Import Trade in the region. The park shall be well connected to Road/Rail/Waterway Network thereby ensuring seamless movement.
To support the industrial infrastructure and need of the industry sector a pool of talented and skilled workforce is available in the state from IIT, CIPET, Medical colleges, skill university and central universities and institutions and Assam has been gradually strengthening the skilling and educational infrastructure.
The state has over 66,000 industries with 88% of the same constituting micro industries. Industries in Assam contribute 39% to the State’s GSDP and provide direct employment to approximately four lakh people and indirect employment to around 20 lakh people.
The State has attracted public and private sector investments over Rs. 52,000 crores where the public sector investments are in the tune nearly Rs. 44,600 crores. Over Rs. 7,800 crores are private sector investments in the industrial sector as well and the state has recently organized a ground breaking summit to felicitate new investors. While Petroleum and Natural Gas, Aviation, Logistics and Infrastructure are some of the sectors where public sectors invested, the private investments are majorly in sunrise sectors like Pharmaceutics and FMCG. Today, Assam is geared-up for a new phase of growth with dedicated infrastructure and a congenial environment for businesses. The state’s talent pool, transparent governance and infrastructure push, has catapulted it to a strong position wherein Assam indeed acts as the springboard creating momentum towards exploiting opportunities in ASEAN and BBN countries. Assam indeed is your expressway to do business with ASEAN.
(Dr. K.K. Dwivedi, IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Assam)