Politics

Haryana Chief Minister’s Foreign Tours Aren’t Reeling in Enough Investment

RTI enquries have shown that a large amount of public money has been spent by the Haryana government in the name of attracting foreign investment, without generating sufficient results.

Manohar Lal Khattar. Credit: PTI/Files

Manohar Lal Khattar. Credit: PTI/Files

Investing huge sums of money in the mega investors’ summit organised at Gurgaon, and organising foreign tours for its ministers and officials to attract foreign investment doesn’t appear to have paid off for the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in Haryana. Investments in the state and the generation of new employment has dipped in the last two years of its rule.

As per the latest data on the state’s economic performance, obtained by Samalkha-based right to information activist P.P. Kapoor, the Khattar government has fared worse than the previous Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress regime in the state, when it comes to attracting investment.

The directorate general of the industry and finance department revealed in response to an RTI query that while the Hooda government was in power from 2005-06 to 2013-14, a total of 407 projects were implemented in the state through an investment of Rs 25816.08 crore and 115,888 people had received employment in these, but during the two years of Khattar government (2014-2016) only 18 units were set up at an estimated investment of Rs 670.13 crore and a total of 3023 new jobs were created in these.

Kapoor said from these government figures it was clear that the claims of the Khattar government about generating massive employment by setting up more projects and investment, were in fact a farce. “From this data is it clear that during the Hooda rule, an average of 41 units were started each year with an average investment of Rs 2581.60 crore and that this resulted in creation of nearly 11,589 jobs annually.”

But, during the past two years, rather than these figures going up, as per the claims of the Khattar government, they witnessed a sharp decline as the average number of units being set up annually came down to a mere nine, the investment plunged to Rs 335 crore and the employment generation fell to an insignificant 1512.

During the past two years, he said only two persons have been appointed in the Haryana State Industrial and Investment Development Corporation, which showed how there has been a marked decline in the creation of employment opportunities in the state.

Referring to the mega Happening Haryana Global Investors Summit, which was organised in Gurgaon, Kapoor said that while the department had refused to provide him with details on how much money was spent on it, though six months have passed since it was organised, it was also pertinent to note that the department has no answers on how much investment has actually been attracted, by when this investment was expected to come in, and how many people would gain employment because of it, and by when.

The department’s roundabout answers to these queries reveal that the summit had proved to be a major disaster, he said. In fact, this summit had happened soon after Haryana was rocked by the Jat reservation agitation in which public and private property worth thousands of crores was torched, destroyed or looted by the protesters.

Kapoor is now hoping that the government would reveal this information, as the State Information Commissioner Samir Mathur has now summoned the deputy general manager of the HSIIDC on September 28 on the matter.

He said the RTI queries have also revealed that enormous amounts of public money have been spent by the government functionaries in the past decade on foreign visits undertaken to promote investment in the state. “During the 10 years of Hooda Government, Rs 95.41 crore were spent on these foreign visits”, he said, adding that the HSIIDC had however, claimed that the investment in the state cannot be pegged to a particular foreign visit.

On the generation of employment, the government’s response through the economic and statistical department revealed that as of March 31, 2013, there were a total of 340,086 people on government rolls which increased to 340,698 by March 31, 2014 showing an rise of just 612 jobs. The department did not release any date for 2014-15.

As for Khattar’s tour of Japan and China in January 2016, after which he had boasted at a press conference at the Chandigarh press club that an investment of Rs 60,0000 crore has been promised by the Wanda company of China alone and that overall the investments would be much more and would provide employment to lakhs of youth and help in making Haryana a smart state, the RTI reply has revealed that while Rs 46 lakh were spent on this visit, the results have not been tangible.

The HSIIDC stated in response to a query that it was difficult to assess the level of investment or the number of jobs which would be created due to this visit. But, he claimed that thousands of crores of rupees were expected to be spent on the implementation of these schemes.

In light of these vague replies, Kapoor has also alleged that most of these visits were undertaken for fun and that the tall claims were nothing but hollow promises being made to overcome the shortcomings of the government.