Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu says that his state clocked almost 11 percent growth in the last financial year, but that's not enough as far as he is concerned. He wants his state to clock 15 percent growth.
In an exclusive conversation with CNBC-TV18's Shereen Bhan, Naidu whose government completed two years in office today asserts that his government has created over 1 lakh 20 thousand jobs in the last 2 years.
He also said that his government has focussed in a big way on agriculture and horticulture.
Below is the transcript of Chandrababu Naidu's interview with CNBC-TV18's Shereen Bhan.
Q: It has been a couple of months since you and I had a conversation. Since then the Andhra Pradesh Investment Summit has taken place and if my memory serves me correctly, about 331 MoUs were signed, proposals worth Rs 4.78 lakh crore that promised to create 10 lakh jobs. So, what has actually all of that translated in to actual reality on the ground?
A: First time we have conducted investors meet. As you rightly mentioned agreements, MoUs we have entered into. Now all the MoUs we are following it up. Some of the MoUs we were able to materialise. Couple of months more than 60-70 percent we are going to achieve it. All MoUs we are going to implement it.
Q: You are saying that you will be able to close all of those MoUs amounting to over Rs 4.78 lakh crore? The experience in different state governments has been very different?
A: You are 100 percent right, majority I am confident we will clinch it.
Q: Let me ask you for specifics, looking at all the material that's been put out as your government complete two years in office, someone has put together a 40 point achievements highlights of what your government has been able to achieve. So, let start by asking you in terms of infrastructure because that has been a big focus area of your government. What is the current status as far as the capital Amaravati is concerned and what more can we now expect in terms of the infrastructure related projects that the government itself is working on?
A: We are very clear, this is a new state, there are lot of opportunities. At the same time lot of challenges we are facing. If you see, two corridors were working, one is Vishakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial corridor. For this corridor ADB is assisting, even financially they are helping us via their loan. Also Bangalore-Chennai Industrial corridor via Krishnapatnam, is another corridor. In these two corridors four nodes are coming. Even government of India is working with us. In Andhra Pradesh there is water, there is surplus power and also we are having good infrastructure, apart from all these things, very qualitative labour is available, this is our advantage. Under the same time Amaravati is a greenfield city. It is not only administrative capital, it is economic, tourism and also overall employment generation. As of now master plan details have been completed. Many companies especially on education and also health people are showing interest. We are going to close some of the companies in the near future, that is how we are moving on Amaravati. Amaravati will be one of the best futuristic cities in India. It is a blue green city. I am confident it will be modern city for India, especially for Andhra Pradesh.
Q: Do you believe that you will be able to have it up and running by 2018 or by 2020?
A: No, it is maths going on working in that, 2018 I am confident these administrative buildings will come. For that we have identified one Maki and Associates of Japan to give master plan details and also overall architecture and also Singapore is coming. They are starting now. Very soon it is going to be closed and also other UGC Universities. So many SRM, VIT, Amity they are coming and hospital people are showing interest.
Q: Let me ask you specifically because you talked about water and that’s being one of the positives for the states, but there has been of course drought related impact across large parts of India and Andhra Pradesh is also being impacted by the drought, specifically, areas like Anantapur have been impacted by years of drought. There are very disturbing reports coming in from areas like Anantapur District which suggest that forced into poverty people and now women are being forced into prostitution for instance. What kind of government intervention is expected? How many districts have been declared drought hit in Andhra Pradesh, what is the drought mitigation plan?
A: No, what I am saying the report on Anantapur is totally false. First of all I want to straight in that and on the same time, once Anantapur we had a very low rainfall, second lowest rainfall in the country. Now we are able to take water from Srisailam that is through Handri-Neeva. Last year we are able to give so many tanks. Now, I want to make Rayalaseema drought proof, for that rainwater harvesting through check dams, percolation tanks, farm ponds and everything we are providing. This year we had little bit rain. This monsoon year that rainy year, generally it is over by May 31, I am assuring you can go and visit Anantapur. Now Anantapur is having so many structures, so much of water is available now. This year I am planning multi prolonged attempt that means rainwater how to harness, linking of rivers Krishna, Godavari I was able to link. Godavari water I am bringing to Krishna, Krishna Delta where we are using 100 TMC I am drawing that water Srisailam to Rayalaseema that is Anantapur, Kadapa, Kurnool, Chittor that is available and also rainwater this year 6 lakh farm ponds we are constructing. Now all rainfall we are able to preserve, so with all these things again I am going one more step ahead, water management through drip irrigation and sprinkle irrigation. I am giving 90 percent subsidy for this. As on today in Andhra Pradesh, 30 lakh acres are covered under drip irrigation. I am going every year 7-8 lakh acres. This is another step I have taken. Finally, this dry spell mitigation outgoing that means whenever there is a dry spell to save the crop I am using rain gun which is mobile sprinkler. Through that I can give one or two wettings for groundnut, so that a crop will be saved.
Q: How much money you are spending on your drought mitigation plan?
A: Totally for the last two years Rs 16,000 crore, I have spent only on water conservation and also canal construction.
Q: Since we are talking about your budget and the budgetary allocation that you are going to be making. Let me also ask you in terms of the revenue picture, what is the kind of outlook as far as revenues for the state is concerned, given the fact that you are trying to draw an investment and also specifically if you can take us through which of the areas that you believe in investment is most likely to come in. You got an aerospace and defence policy, you were one of the few states to actually put that policy forward. What can we expect in terms of revenue visibility and any particular sectors where you see that the investment is now starting to come in?
A: No, I am going in a big way total industrial development, I am providing world class infrastructure for that matter. One is agro processing, mineral based industries, aerospace, defence and also automobile and also so many other areas also tourism I am going in a big way. It is one area where I can get it. Ultimately, I want to make Andhra Pradesh as a manufacturing hub for export just like Shenzhen how they have done. It is possible in Andhra Pradesh because of so many ports that to Southeast Asia that is the possibility we are having. I am working on that direction.
Q: Since you are talking about ports let me also ask you about airports because you keep talking about positioning Andhra Pradesh not just as a manufacturing hub but also a destination for tourism. The civil aviation minister Mr Gajapathi Raju had said that the centre was in talks with your government to look at the possibility of developing three airports specifically in Vishakhapatnam, Nellore and Kurnool. Where do things stand on those plans?
A: It is very clear we are acquiring land now. I Visakhapatnam, Bhogapuram and also Orvakal in Kurnool and Dagadarthi in Nellore district. All three airports are under progress. Very soon we are going to ground it. We are going to call private investors to develop this project.
Q: You will be calling private investors to invest in these three airports. What kind of land have you already been able to acquire in Vishakhapatnam, Nellore and Kurnool and is the Airports Authority of India (AAI) going to be participating in these projects?
A: I am leaving it to them. If they are willing we will join with them also. Ultimately I am going to acquire land first phase. I am going to get all clearances. Then I will invite private partners.
Q: How soon do you expect to bid these airports out?
A: Now, money is provided. We are having four-five airports as on today. One is Vishakapatnam, under the same name greenfield airport I am going. Another is Vijayawada, we are expanding this airport. And also Rajahmundry, another airport we are expanding. Tirupati, now it is international airport. Puttaparthi Airport is also there and also Kadapa Airport. Apart from that another three airports we are doing. All these airports I have provided money, they are acquiring land. Very soon we are going to call tenders for development.
Q: Telangana the state government there has put out full page ads talking about their achievements in the past two years. They are also mirroring a lot of your policies. For instance trying to draw in foreign investors, trying to draw in start up investments into the state. How are you positioned differently today and is Telangana really your biggest competitor?
A: What I am saying, in India there are 29 states. You know very well earlier I developed Hyderabad. At that time also there were competition from other states. But ultimately on merit we were able to attract investments. Same thing I am saying now. Today on ease of doing we are number two. Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh it is only one percent difference. Even FDI, we are number three as on today. After Gujarat, and also after Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh is the third state. So, this is where we are moving in that direction. India is having so many opportunities. Some states they will also work together. Sometimes there is good competition that is good. Always competition will give more and more opportunities and also we can build efficiency also.
Q: Let me also ask you about another scheme that you had announced and that was a mega housing scheme to provide housing for 6 lakh poor people in the state and we have spoken about this the last time you and I had a conversation. Where do things currently stand on that particular scheme and what other schemes would you perhaps be now looking to work towards as you start year three?
A: As on today over 6 lakh houses are sanctioned, especially 2 lakh houses in urban areas, all sites are indentified. Rural housing we are launching now. This financial year I want to complete all houses and complete the construction. Housing is one area where there is a lot of opportunity. It is one of the most important growth engines for economy. I am moving in that direction. Ultimately I want to provide house for every poor family and also every person should have house, that is our ultimate goal.
Q: I also want to talk to you about the power situation because a lot of states at this point in time have now decided to partner with the government's UDAY scheme - 4 discoms to try and get the power sector back on track. You fortunately don't have to deal significantly with legacy issues. I understand that at this point in time it is a zero power deficit situation for you. Can you take us through what you expect on the power front especially as you expect investment to pickup?
A: Very interestingly I was the architect for power sector reforms long ago. Andhra Pradesh was number one state at that time who has gone through power sector reforms. By 2004 I was able to reach power surplus and even financial surplus. After 10 years again it has gone through so many problems. Today if you see after bifurcation 22.5 million units is the shortage. Within one month's time I was able to mobilise with efficiency purchasing power from other places. Today we are power surplus. National government has announced 5-6 awards and we got all 6 awards. Today our theft and commercial loss is only 10.2 percent. This year we are going to reach single digits. Within 2-3 years time I am going to reach international standards. Theft and technical losses 5-6 percent, quality of power I am concentrating. Also I am going solar and wind. Energy saving I am going in a big way. I am replacing all existing street lights with LED bulbs. Even houses I am giving two bulbs and also energy saving pump sets I am giving. 15 lakh pump sets I am going to replace with energy saving pump sets within 3 years time. These are all various issues we are moving forward on. We are number one in power sector.
Q: Let me ask you about what the aspiration is as far as the GDP growth is concerned because you have managed to beat the national average coming in at 10.5 percent in 2015-2016. What are you aspiring to move towards now and what will be the key drivers for that growth?
A: As on today if you see I am having so many problems. It is a new state, two years old state. I am having offices in Hyderabad and also Amaravati. In spite of all initial problems we were able to grow at the rate of 10.99 percent whereas all India growth rate is 7.6 percent. Now I am planning 15 percent not for one year, another 15 years I want to grow at this rate. In spite of drought last year in agriculture we are having a shortfall of 7 percent whereas horticulture, dairy , fisheries we are able to grow better. Ultimately 8.5 percent is the agriculture growth rate. Even services and industry we are doing very well. Now investment is coming. I am confident we want to grow at the rate of 15 percent, that is what I am aiming. More or less we are number one, we will continue to be number one. Also if you see I am going in horticulture in a big way. Rayalaseema will be the horticulture hub. We are developing agro processing industries. In dairy we are very strong, in poultry we are very strong and fisheries we are number one as on today. In the country Andhra Pradesh will be one of the most important destinations for aquaculture. So, agriculture and all these things is one aspect, industry I want to go in a big way. Ultimately we have to provide employment and also to have a sustainable economy industry has to develop and then automatically tourism, service sector all these things will take off.
Q: You promised to create 10 lakh jobs at the end of that investment summit. How many jobs have been created so far over the past two years in the state?
A: Because of all these things more than 120,000 we are able to create employment for the last two years.
Q: So you have been able to employ or provide employment for 120,000 of course you got a target of 10 lakh jobs and that’s what you promised to the people, but let me ask you about what you see as far as the Centre is concerned and we got another session of parliament around the corner. The government believe that it now has the numbers to push through the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill. Do you believe that GST is likely to be a reality in the monsoon session?
A: Yes, it must be a reality. The country wants it. All political party has to support then there will be a transparency, not only transparency business will be very easy that is the need of the hour. We may have political differences, ultimately national development is important. India is a great country if you bring some more reforms and also if you plan well, India will grow at the rate of double digit. Only the country which is having the opportunity to grow double digit is India, not China, not America, not other countries. Even China’s growth rate is diminishing. India’s growth rate is picking up, so all of us to support GST and also we have to move in that direction.
Q: You know you just presented your own report card of two years, so as the central government is also completed two years in office. You were talking about reforms, are you satisfied with the pace of reforms pushed forward by the centre, how would you assess two years of the NDA government?
A: I told you already lot of opportunities for India if all of us can plan not only centre and also state, then India will be top 3 in the world in a way, but if you do well it will be 1 or 2 in the world. Is it China or India. We can overcome easily America because of population, our size of economy and everything, so ultimately if you plan everything properly by 2050 we will be more or less equal to China or we can dominate China.
Q: 2050 is a long way off sir. But let me ask you about next 12 months. You have completed two years. You have given us a check on what you have managed to achieve. What is going to be the big focus and priority area as you start year three in office?
A: What I am saying from my side, from Andhra Pradesh my concentration is on growth areas especially I have prepared GSTP contribution for the state nearly 58 growth engines, either agriculture, industry and also services. And also not only on economic indicators health indicators, education indicators, social indicators also we are preparing. We are drilling down to district as a unit and also mandal. We are going to create competition amongst villages also for development. This is the best exercise we are doing. Once in three months we are able to calculate GSTP contribution in all sectors. I am hoping my administration to achieve these goals.