Tamil Nadu emerges as country’s top investment destination: survey

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Tamil Nadu has emerged as the country’s top investment destination in the first quarter of this financial year, even as overall fresh investment announcements in India slumped to the lowest in five years amidst a period marred by the extended pandemic-induced lockdown.

The southern State accounted for 18.63% of the ₹97,859 crore of investments envisaged to execute 1,241 projects in the country in the first quarter, reckoned Projects Today, an independent firm that tracks investment projects in the country.

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17 MoUs

The Tamil Nadu government had signed 17 MoUs (memorandums of understanding) with investors on May 27, 2020, which gave a ₹18,236 crore fillip to its investment pipeline in the quarter between April and June.

While private sector investments on the whole collapsed to just 39.1% of total investments in the quarter, a ratio last seen in the first quarter of 2013-14, Tamil Nadu attracted large players like Daimler India Commercial Vehicles for a ₹2,277 crore project at Oragadam and the largest power project announced in the quarter (a 750 MW gas-based plant with an outlay of ₹3,000 crore).

Two private sector projects worth ₹2,900 crore in the State for producing wind mill equipment and semiconductor chips, accounted for a bulk of the 16 machinery sector investment proposals worth ₹3,678 crore across the country.

Data centres

The State is also host to three of the five data centres envisaged to come up in the country at a total investment of ₹7,400 crore. The other two data centres are proposed in Maharashtra, which was second to Tamil Nadu with fresh investments worth ₹11,228.8 crore. Maharashtra had signed 12 MoUs with firms from Singapore, South Korea and the U.S. through a virtual Magnetic Maharashtra summit.

“While States like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra held investors meet and signed MoUs, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka reworked labour laws, started building land banks and sent feelers to foreign companies for investing in their States,” the Projects Today investment survey noted. In all, private promoters announced 266 new projects worth ₹38,242.9 crore.

Besides investment projects, largely dominated by the government sector, 5,493 project tenders worth ₹1,74,852.82 crore were also announced, with a record value of tenders issued for leasing mines. The period also witnessed finalisation of 738 project contracts worth ₹31,418.15 crore.

Fresh additions

Fresh capacity additions are expected in the healthcare and pharma sectors ‘with immediate effect’, according to 39% of participants in a survey conducted by Projects Today in May.

The coming quarters will also demonstrate the efficacy of the Centre’s stimulus package — that included financial and fiscal reforms along with steps to enhance the agriculture and small scale industries — in attracting foreign and domestic private capital,

Interestingly, investments improved every passing month in the quarter. April, the first month of complete lockdown, saw an announcement of 260 new projects worth ₹20,181.6 crore, rising to 436 new projects worth ₹37,922 crore in May.

“With the announcement of Unlocking 1.0 of the economy on June 8, 2020, the month saw a further surge in the number of new projects. In all, the month saw announcement of 545 new projects with a total investment of ₹39,755.43 crore,” the report noted. Fresh project expenditure from Central government agencies dipped in June 2020, though Projects Today expects this to rise in coming months.

‘Great potential’

“We believe that India has all the potential to be the contract manufacturer of the world in areas such as automobile ancillaries, smartphones, electronic items, capital goods, food processing, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, etc. It also has the required labour force in abundance. However, the country’s slow-moving official machinery, archaic land and labour laws are some of the things preventing foreign companies from bringing in their technology and capital to India. It is high time we address these issues at the earliest at the Central and State governments’ level,” said Shashikant Hegde, director and CEO of Projects Today.

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