Once a strong opponent of the goods and services tax (GST) Bill, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan now is of the view that GST is necessary for India to achieve high growth and attract more investments. As far as the state is concerned, Chouhan tells Sanjay Jog Madhya Pradesh has emerged as an investor-friendly state and will continue to make all-round progress. Edited excerpts:
How hopeful are you of the passage of the goods and services tax Bill?
States have already held marathon meetings with the finance minister and they have brought to his notice the problems faced by them in shifting to a GST regime. All states are satisfied now as the Centre has addressed major issues. Therefore, I appeal to all political parties, especially the Congress, to support the GST amendment Bill as passing it will attract more investments and spur growth.
After intolerance, now there is a controversy over the arrest of a student leader of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on sedition charges. Will this impact investments?
Let me be clear that there is no intolerance in India. In fact, the country has been the most tolerant. Nobody is bigger than the nation. If somebody shouts slogans against the country, it will not be tolerated. I repeat there is no intolerance. India is a peaceful nation, barring a few stray incidents which will not hamper investments.
Is Madhya Pradesh positioned as a favoured destination?
Madhya Pradesh is an investor-friendly state and it is habituated to remain on the top. The government will continue to strive to keep its pre-eminent position. On ease of doing business, too, the state is among the leaders. The state is peaceful, there is no law-and- order problem. Presence of dacoits has become a thing of the past. Besides, the government has effectively contained the Naxalite issue. The government has already put in place policies for practically every sector to attract investments.
After the opening of the defence sector, the government had released a policy to attract investment. The government has come out with policies in the fields of textile, IT and food processing. Customised packages are offered to investors.
The government has already launched a single-table system, wherein I, along with the officials concerned, hold meetings with investors to expedite their proposals. This apart, every Monday, I review the implementation of these investment proposals and try to address issues.
The government has already enacted a Public Service Guarantee Act making it binding on the part of the government employees concerned to clear proposals received.
How had Madhya Pradesh tackled the contentious issue of land acquisition?
Investors won’t face land acquisition problems as the state has a land bank of 25,000 hectares. In addition to this, 5,000 acres are available in Gwalior. The investor has to submit a land acquisition proposal online and it is processed online. In several cases, if the proposals are found sound, land allotment is done in just an hour.
What is the present state of labour reforms?
The government has taken a number of steps in this field. There are some 17 points on which the government has made a lot of changes. The number of registers have been drastically brought down. This apart, a number of inspections have also been reduced. Women are no allowed to work in three shifts.
How has the government tackled power deficit?
24×7 power is a reality. Per-unit tariff is cheaper here that in other states. Capacity has been increased to 15,000 Mw from 4,000 Mw in 10 years. The government is also focusing on solar capacity addition. The government aims to increase solar capacity to 5,000 Mw by 2020.