Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy chose to address head-on any concerns foreign businesses may have about investing in his 10-week old government, admitting that while the state lacked "big metros like a Hyderabad, Bengaluru or Chennai", it offered a stable administration backed by a decisive mandate.
Mr Reddy was speaking at a day-long diplomatic outreach summit in the capital Amaravati on Friday, which was attended by delegates from 30 countries and organised in partnership with the external affairs ministry.
The Chief Minister, whose YSR Congress Party swept to power in state polls held earlier this year, said his government had taken "revolutionary decisions" like renegotiating energy tariffs and introducing legislation to reserve jobs.
"The decision to renegotiate on PPAs is being seen as highly controversial. But what is the point of a PPA when discoms are not in a position to pay your bills? Discoms are crumbling," he explained, adding that the previous government, led by TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, had not paid arrears amounting to Rs 20,000 crore for the past 18 months.
The Chief Minister also explained a bill passed last week by the state assembly to reserve 75 per cent of jobs for locals in all the industrial units in the state, and assured investors this would not lead to a shortage in skilled workers.
"We will make sure talent is available... if you let us know qualifications and skill, we will set up skill development centres in engineering colleges," he said, pointing out that such measures were being taken in many countries, including the United States.
Interestingly, the Chief Minister's speech did not mention contentious points such as these; he chose to elaborate on them in order to clear potential investors' doubts.
Chief Minister Jagan Reddy also elaborated on the strong mandate with which was party was elected to power.
"What attracts industry is stability of government. We got an overwhelming mandate. 86 per cent of 175 assembly seats and we are also the fourth largest party in Parliament,'' he said, adding that the state enjoyed good relations with the centre and neighbouring states.
He also listed the many advantages of setting up industrial units in the state, pointing to a coastline that stretched for nearly 1,000 kilometres, six airports and four (soon to become eight) ports.
The Chief Minister stressed on these aspects, highlighting that with the backing of the people of the state, his government could "stand as a role model for the rest of the country".
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