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Ladies and Gentlemen,
I express my sincere gratitude to Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs for inviting me to the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017. It is a great honour to speak to the people of Indian origin who have made us proud with their extra-ordinary achievements in various countries around the globe. They are the true ambassadors of Indian culture and values to different countries. I convey my heartiest congratulations to all on the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.
The Assamese diaspora forms an important part of the great Indian diaspora. The non-resident Assamese are now spread all around the globe and settled in various countries. They are providing valuable services in medicine, engineering, hospitality, information technology, financial services and other fields and are making immense contribution to the economies of the host countries by dint of their hard work. However, like other Indian diaspora, they retain familial, emotional, cultural and spiritual links with Assam.
Our government in Assam is only around 7 months old. However, under the guidance of our Honb’le Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji, our Government is striving to bring out positive change in economic, cultural and environmental landscape of Assam.
Assam is full of pristine natural beauty with huge potentiality, possibilities and opportunities. The common notion about Assam about its locational disadvantage, insurgency and lack of enabling business environment are things of past. The State has now been very peaceful and is absolutely safe for any business activities.
Industrialization in Assam dates back to British-era when the British set up the tea estates, coal mining and oil wells. The oil refinery at Digboi was set up in 1901, which is still functional. Assam remained one of the largest revenue earning States with one of the highest per capita income in the country before independence. After the partition in 1947, the State become completely land locked and lost access to the sea ports. Its traditional trade through Bangladesh was also disrupted. As a result the State faced tremendous economic challenges.
But now in the age of regional economic cooperation, Assam has a unique locational advantage. The State is the gateway to the vibrant economies of the South East Asian countries. Assam is rapidly emerging as a strategic base for foreign and domestic investors to tap the very vast potential. Assam’s location in combination with its rich natural resources and skilled manpower provide a natural backdrop for promising business. We propose to develop Guwahati as a business hub. We are planning to set up a Global Business Centre at Guwahati so that national and multinational companies can set their offices and spread out from here.
In terms of connectivity, industrial infrastructure, natural resources and policy initiatives, today Assam has very promising and investors-friendly environment.
Assam is connected to all major cities of the country through East-West corridor, air and rail network. Assam has highest numbers of airport density in the country with international airport at Guwahati. The waterway no. 1 through the river Brahmaputra provides access to sea ports of Kolkata and Bangladesh. The proposed Trans Asian Railway and Trans Asian Highway will further improve the connectivity with most of the countries under BIMSTEC and ASEAN.
Today, Assam has a vibrant industrial base and is ready to welcome investors. The State has over 70 Industrial Infrastructures including Growth Centres, Export Processing Industrial Parks, Food Parks, Bamboo Park, Plastic Park, Integrated Industrial Infrastructure Centre, Industrial Estates, Biotech Park, IT Park etc.
Our state accounts for 50% of onshore crude oil production with high success rate of 70% in oil exploration. With reserves of over 1.30 billion tons of crude oil, 156 billion cubic meter natural gas, 320 million tons of coal, 7.03 billion tons of lime stone etc, Assam has tremendous potential for industrialization.
Assam is also known for its fine tea throughout the world. We produce more than half of total tea of the country and export to all over the world. About 800 big tea estates and over 1 lakh small tea gardens in Assam produce about 630 million kg tea annually.
The current industrial scenario in the State is peaceful and encouraging. The entire industrial ecosystem is investment friendly, supportive and accommodating. State’s industrial base is spread across a wide spectrum of industries in petroleum, petrochemicals, fertilizers, textile, cement, paper and hosts of services. Big industrial players like OIL, IOC, ONGC, GAIL, Hindustan Unilever, ITC, TATA, Britannia, Eveready, Sun Pharma, and many more are operating in our State. Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited (BCPL) which was commissioned in 2015 will produce 2.20 lakh tons of LLDPE/ HDPE and 60 thousand tons of Polypropylene every year. This will accelerate setting up plastic industries in the State. Presently, the consumption of plastic in North East is about 3.75 kg per person which is far below the national average. A Plastic Park is also being setup in Tinsukia, close to BCPL to promote the investment in Plastic Industries.
The mighty Brahmaputra river, flowing through Assam, along with its tributaries, forms the largest perennial river system which itself has immense potential in tourism and energy sectors. Our government with support of Central government wishes to dredge the entire stretch of the Brahmaputra in the State to allow the big ships to navigate and access sea routes for business.
Human resource is equally important for industrial eco system. The State has some of the finest education and research institutes which include IIT, IIIT, Centre and State Universities, Medical & Engineering Colleges, CIPET, Tocklai Tea Research Centre, Rainforest Research Centre etc. We passed the Assam Ease of Doing Business Act 2016 in very first session of Legislative Assembly. Single window clearance system has been setup for providing online clearance and permission in fixed time frame.
Assam offers unique incentives through North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy, 2007. The incentives includes Central Excise and Income Tax exemption for a period of 10 years, 30 % Capital Investment subsidy , 100% Insurance Subsidy and Interest Subsidy on Term Loan. This policy also covers service sector activities including Hotels & Resorts, Nursing Homes, Power Projects, Biotechnology Projects, etc. The State Industrial Policy provides VAT exemption for a period of 15 years, Entry Tax and Luxury tax exemption etc for the investors. In case of Mega Projects of Rs. 100 crore or more special incentives and support are provided by the State Government.
Northeast region is one of 35 biodiversity hotspots on the planet. Unique climatic condition of the region supports exceptional array of flora and fauna. Our government proposes to develop Assam as an Organic Hub. Over 450 species of medicinal plants and herbs have been recorded in the State and large number of them is being commercially exploited. Over 300 species of orchids are also found in the State and out of which 60% are ornamental in nature. These medicinal plants, herbs and orchids have lot of commercial potential in national and international markets. Rubber cultivation is also becoming very popular in Assam. Assam has highest concentration of bamboo in the country. As over 60% of the total bamboo of the country is found here in northeast region, a Bamboo Technology Park is being setup near Guwahati to harness the potential optimally.
Assam presents unparalleled attractions in wildlife, adventure and eco-tourism also. There are five national parks and fifteen wildlife sanctuaries in the State. The Kaziranga National Park is home to the largest number of one horned rhinos. The Park also has the highest density of tigers in the world. The Manas National Park is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site and it is known for its rare and endangered flora and fauna. We have immense potentiality in the tourism sector and recently we have roped in Priyanka Chopra as our Brand Ambassador for tourism.
We are dedicated to building a prosperous and resilient Assam. The diaspora has a rich experience of new technologies, systems, knowledge and work culture at the global level, with a deep understanding of our local issues. Let us bring the best systems available in the world to our country and bring happiness and prosperity to each and every citizen. I welcome you to our State to participate in our journey of growth and prosperity. We propose to hold a Global Business Summit at Guwahati in the month of November, 2017 and I invite you all in advance to participate.