Shillong, Sept. 14: Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma today wooed prospective investors by saying that they could save 30 per cent of the costs by investing in the state.
“Business houses are being made to pay through their nose because of high real estate cost in and around the metros. Besides, the cost of living for the workforce is very high which has resulted in most business houses operating at about 50 per cent of their full capacity. This is happening in the IT sector, too. You are paying huge sums for rent in the metros. Setting up operations in Shillong will mean cutting about 30 per cent of that expenditure,” he told the gathering at the inaugural session of Meghabytes NICT 2012 here.
He said an added benefit would be manpower, as the large number of northeastern people working in the IT sector in the metros would be happier working back at home.
Sangma urged business houses to analyse these “good benefits” and inform the government about the support they would need to set up shop in the state. He said the state offered innumerable avenues for partnership. “Meghalaya is highly conducive to investment and calls upon different business houses and service providers to take advantage of the state’s congenial atmosphere for investment.”
Saying that there was no limitation to the use of technology in the state, especially in governance, he called for a stronger engagement between the government and the service and technology providers.
He, however, called upon service and technology providers to keep in mind that the technology and its use should be affordable for the end users.
“Today, the main constraint the government faces as far as adoption of new technology and its use is concerned is the high cost. There have been instances where the cost of a new technology, developed and used outside the country, when brought into the country, goes up by 100 to 200 per cent. This is something that we need to address.”
Sangma said Meghalaya was receptive to adoption of all available technology and it was the only state in the country that had all infrastructure required for e-governance — be it statewide area network, data centre or common service centres. “When an expression of interest was floated in 2004, Meghalaya was the first state in the country to come up with an EOI inviting partners for a statewide area network,” he added.
The only bottleneck that Meghalaya faces is the frequent failure of connectivity, he told the gathering and added that it needed partners to address the issue. He said an expression of interest had been floated for an IT park in the state and the present IT policy was also being strengthened.
The inaugural session was attended by senior officials of the state, including information technology minister A.L. Hek, chief secretary W.M.S. Pariat and IT commissioner D.P. Wahlang. They spoke of the initiatives taken by the state in the IT sector, which was widely appreciated by the companies present.
The organising secretary of NICT and associate vice-president (IT) of ABP Ltd, K.K. Mahapatra, said the Northeast, one of the youngest aspirants to be integrated into the Indian IT map, was poised for growth. “While IT has played a significant role in influencing economic development of the country, the young English-speaking population of the region provides phenomenal promise for IT to work wonders for the Northeast,” he said.
“NICT is not an event targeting the IT community. It is a platform that brings together industry leaders from IT and business, who congregate to share their expertise, experiences and visions for IT-enablement. This will help the paradigm shift that organisations are seeking in order to address the changing needs of customers and will also have the leapfrog effect on the Northeast to bring the region to the forefront,” Mahapatra added.
At an interactive session in a city hotel this evening, Sangma said his government’s was putting a lot of emphasis on education and infrastructure and would soon start coaching classes for students who have been failing for many years.
He said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had accepted Meghalaya’s request for a loan to support human capital development. The proposed project will improve the quality and delivery of secondary education (including teachers’ training) and skill development programmes, he added.
Sangma also said that a medical college in Shillong was being structured on a public-private partnership mode. A consultant has been appointed and the deal will be closed next month.
He also said infrastructure was being improved in the state at a cost of Rs 500 crore.