British envoy for stronger biz ties with Odisha

Reported by Sandeep Pattnaik

Bhubaneswar, Jan 28:

There is tremendous potential for expanding business in Odisha in areas like infrastructure, mining and advanced engineering, a 17-member UK business delegation led by the British Deputy High Commissioner to Eastern India Scott Furssedonn-Wood said here on Tuesday.

“Things are happening in Odisha. The state has had its share of challenges, but there is now a real sense of energy and optimism here. The Government of Odisha has some exciting plans, particularly in the advanced engineering, mining and infrastructure sector and in skills and education. There are some world-class British companies with tremendous experience and expertise in those sectors who can play a part in making Odisha’s future bright,” Wood said at a seminar on ‘UK and Odisha in Partnership’ here.

Apart from UK companies, senior British officials are also visiting Odisha including Mr Sam Sharpe, the Country Head of DFID India and Mr Kumar Iyer, Director General of UK Trade and Investment have meetings with senior Odisha government officials and businesses to strengthen bilateral co-operation.

“Odisha has faced its share of challenges, of course. And one very recent one – the terrible Cyclone that hit the coast here in October – is still making its effects felt. The extensive damage to property and infrastructure from Cyclone Phailin will take time to put right. The Government of Odisha is doing a great job with this. And before coming here this morning I met a number of NGOS, funded by the British Government, who are doing great work things too. The people of Odisha are strong and determined and the state is already bouncing back,” the Deputy High Commissioner said.

Noting that Britain and Odisha already have some excellent partnerships in the areas of education, culture, development and business, Wood said the relationship would grow further in the days to come. “I am confident that the UK companies here with us today will discover new opportunities and build new partnerships. Working together, we can ensure that the best days of the UK/Odisha relationship are yet to come and that the future of Odisha and its people is as bright as it can be,” he said.

The already strong relationship between India and UK can be made even stronger in future, the Deputy High Commissioner maintained. “The two countries are on course to meet the target set in 2010 by the Indian and UK Prime Ministers of doubling trade by 2015 to £ 23 billion. Investment both ways is also growing. UK companies such as BP and Vodafone have made large investments in India. While the UK is now the third largest investor in India, India is now the 5th largest investor in the UK,” he said.

Indians invest more in the UK than in the whole of the rest of the EU put together. It takes just 13 days to set up a business in the UK. We already have the lowest corporation tax in the G8: by 2015 it will be the lowest in the G20. These are among them any reasons that the UK attracts more FDI than any other country except the US. Quite simply, if you want to be global, the UK is the place to be.

“India needs inward investment in infrastructure i.e. roads, metros, railways, ports, airports, to build new cities and to manage the successful expansion of its existing ones, to create a bigger manufacturing sector at the top end of the value chain, power, from both traditional sources like oil and gas, and renewable sources like wind and solar power, to educate the 500 million of its young people who will be coming onto the labour market in the next ten years, better healthcare for its 1.2 billion people, the kind of international services which the UK offers: in banking, insurance, accountancy, law etc, access to global markets, in which UK can play a greater role,” the British deputy high commissioner added.

“Odisha is one of DFID’s focal states where we have worked largely with government to improve social services using financial and technical aid. While we will continue to provide technical support to these important areas, we have introduced a new approach: providing returnable capital to the private sector to deliver development results – especially jobs and growth. We will complement this with support to improve investment climate and build capacity of private sector,” Ms Meenakshi Nath, Deputy Head of DFID in India said.

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