President of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Naushad Forbes is in Bhubaneswar to attend the Make in Odisha Conclave organised by the state government, CII and the Centre. Naushad, a former professor at Stanford University and co-chairman of Forbes Marshall, India's leading steam engineering and control instrumentation firm, spoke to Subrat Das of The Telegraph on subjects ranging from demonetisation, industrialisation and smart city.
Naushad Forbes, president of Confederation of Indian Industry. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee
♦ Your views on demonetisation...
It's right thing to do, as in the long run it will take the country forward. But in the short run, it's a painful process for the individuals in the informal sector. We have to remonetise the scrapped notes to minimise the pain of common man. Notes worth Rs 500 have to be in circulation within a week or two. Salary payment may be made through cheques, digital transaction or through bank transfer, but remonetisation is essential for daily and small transactions.
♦ Many independent economists have predicted an economic doom.
I don't buy the economic doom theory. Of course, there has been 30 per cent fall of business in the manufacturing sector in a month. It's a big impact. But going forward, you will see things to bounce back. However, remonetisation of Rs 500 notes within a week or two is essential.
♦ Former RBI deputy governor K.C. Chakravorty had said that it might take six months for the government and the RBI to replace Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, going by the note printing capacity presses in India.
Our note printing presses have the capacity to print 10,000 crore notes a day. That comes around 3 lakh crore a month. So, it will take four months to print 12 lakh crore notes. There are also alternatives of printing notes. There are specialised companies abroad who supply notes to a large number of countries.
♦ What is your opinion on industrialisation in Odisha?
Odisha has huge potential for attracting investments. It has abundant natural resources, rich cultural heritage, natural beauty and a long coastline.
The state also possesses a good level of literacy and skill and a disciplined culture, but the need of the hour is to create awareness about its potentials. So, we are organising the Make in Odisha conclave. Nearly 1,000 delegates have come to Odisha. They will see for themselves.
♦ The state government claimed to have received investment commitments to the tune of Rs 1.60 lakh crore in Mumbai and Bangalore investors meets, but very few have concretised.
I don't believe in large investment commitment. The potential lies in hundred small investments, rather than a few big-ticket ones.
Tourism, food processing and seafood projects have huge potential. The Make in Odisha conclave will garner investment for these sectors. You don't need a conclave for big-ticket investors.
♦ How is CII contributing to the smart city initiatives taken for Bhubaneswar?
The chairperson of the Smart City Committee is coming to Bhubaneswar. The city has all the potential to be a smart city. It's a nice place to live in. The potential for using electronic platform is great because the foundation is in place.