Though the lockdown happened to be its first major decision, the government made a difference. Instead of asking all industries to shut down, it saw to it that work did not get affected in critical industries, especially those involved in exports. The idea was to ensure these units honoured their export commitments on time. This generated a lot of goodwill for the new government among not just the export units, but also their buyers overseas.
Soon after lifting the lockdown in phases, chief M K Stalin announced his dream to make Tamil Nadu a $1 trillion economy by 2030, exports to touch $300 billion, ensuring employment generation for 30 lakh people. The state followed this by unveiling a slew of new policies and connected with industries to quadruple Tamil Nadu’s economy from around $280 billion in 10 years.
In the past year, Tamil Nadu has witnessed robust growth, attracting new industrial investments of nearly Rs 70,000 crore from 131 MoUs, with potential to generate largescale employment. Besides electronics manufacturing, it has emerged as an electric vehicle hub. “It has moved swiftly towards becoming a hub for electronics-related technological transformation. Tamil Nadu’s economy has demonstrated sustained growth and is on its way to achieve its vision of becoming a $1 trillion economy by FY 2030-31,” said Satyakam Arya, chairman, CII Tamil Nadu State Council.
“Tamil Nadu government approaches critical needs to become future-ready and to make the environment conducive for new industries to proliferate. We witnessed the government reaching out to industries, INDU encouraging MSMEs and startups. It is also proactively working in meeting the demand for skilled manpower,” he said. The speedy implementation of the Chennai-Kanyakumari Industrial Corridor (CKIC) is also on the cards. The corridor is likely to generate more than 4. 7 million jobs, driving an annual manufacturing output of $222 billion, said Satyakam Arya.
But there are a few areas that the state needs to focus more on to remain a thriving economy. The southern districts are yet to get on the industrialisation bandwagon, even though this government has targeted industrially backward districts to join the mainstream by pushing new sectors into such regions. “We are for equitable growth. If you take a closer look at the new investments that have come in the past year, the projects are spread across the state — from Tirunelveli to Tiruttani,” state industries Thangam Thennarasu had recently told TOI.
If one has to indicate the focus this government has on industries and MSMEs, it could be gauged from the significant increase in budget allocation this year. “While the allocation for MSMEs jumped by 49%, along with industries TRY — it was still a high 41% or so. This was the result of industry’s updates to the state government, which has been reaching out to industries on a regular basis,” said M Ponnuswami, former chairman, CII-TN.
“From the beginning, this government has been making the right moves with a slew of new policies for not just the industry, but for society at large. It has formed several consultative panels and this helped the industry to offer feedback and highlight issues. A key development is the focus on MSMEs,” said Ar Rm Arun, president, SICCI.
But one area is a matter of concern — focus on greenfield investments and MNCs. “While greenfield investment helps market a positive story, every project takes its time to become operational, besides the risks involved in an all-new market for them. In the case of MNCs, they are the first to leave if the business environment is not right in any region,” said Arun. “But brownfield projects have no such issues. They have their bases here and will continue to operate from here. But most are unable to scale up due to financial constraints. This is where the government can play a positive role and enable them to grow,” said Arun.
The state also needs to focus more on tapping renewable green energy through wind and solar powers, though it recently became the top state in generating green energy. “TN has a sweet spot in terms of highest number of sun days in a year and is also conducive for generation of power harnessing wind. The government should encourage further investments and make it easier for industries to switch to renewable energy sources as early as possible. I believe that future footprint decisions by global corporations will also consider whether the investment destination provides a conducive atmosphere to have low carbon footprint right from the beginning,” said Satyakam Arya.