In an exclusive interview, Saurabh Patel, Minister of Finance and Energy, government of Gujarat, says the State will soon release an MSME and start-up policy. It is also expecting investors from Dubai to develop GIFT. Edited excerpts:
Do we see any interest from Dubai-based companies to be a partner in GIFT? Yes, it is expected that several Dubai-based organisations are keen to develop the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) project. During the visit, we have met authorities of Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), Dubai Multi Commodity Centre (DMCC) and Dubai Metro, with a view to develop GIFT City as a global financial hub. In fact, I must share with you that we had received an overwhelming response to participate in the development of GIFT City and in Gujarat which particularly shows the confidence being posed in India by Dubai.
The authorities of these organizations shared their experience of developing DIFC and the DMCC and they also agreed to exchange information with GIFT officials. In addition, the tour was not just limited to GIFT but to set up India´s largest diamond business in Surat. We had detailed discussion with the Gold Souk authorities and DMCC in Dubai and they have agreed to form an alliance with the government of Gujarat to help it establish diamond business in Surat.
What are the latest develop¡ments in GIFT?
We will be launching Phase-II of the project in 2015-16 fiscal. We have got a tremendous response for the Phase-I of the project (costing Rs 1,818 crore), where we have already sold land development rights to the tune of 12 million square feet, which is more than our target of 10 million square feet. In the next three months of the current fiscal, we expect to sell another 3-4 million square feet of space within the GIFT City project. The second phase will cost about Rs 7,696 crore which is four times more than the project cost of Phase-I and will involve an area that will be double the size of 10 million square feet that was targeted to be developed during the first phase.
The second phase of development which is expected to kick in after the Vibrant Gujarat summit will involve a development of 22 million square feet, which is more than double of Phase-I.
How soon will the MSME policy be in place?
Right now it will be difficult for me to give you any timeline on the announcement of MSME policy, however, it will be soon.
What is the status on the start-up policy?
We have already scrutinised applications for innovations. Fifty-six youths have been given a chance and 115 new innovations would be displayed. A panel of six people from Vadodara Innovation Council (VIC), iCreate, VCCI and legal department of the State will guide each innovator on different aspects and each of them would be judged on their innovation capabilities to recommend them ahead.
How is Gujarat dealing with the shortage of skilled workers?
We are determined to provide the State´s youth maximum employment opportunities by giving them training in skills needed by industries. We have launched courses at ITI and engineering training institutes to generate skilled manpower on a large-scale to meet the demands of industry. We recently signed an MoU with Siemens to provide advanced technology and machinery at the cost of Rs 1,450 crore for 11 skill development training centres to be set up with people´s participation.