Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad Sunday said the Nokia facility at Sriperumbudur near Chennai, was left like an “orphaned child” and the Centre was “on the job” to make it operational.
Finland-based Nokia had provided jobs to 8,000 people when the facility, which produced mobile phones in Sriperumbudur was functioning with full capacity.
The factory was left out of the $7.2 billion (roughly Rs. 46,092 crores) deal that was signed between Microsoft and Nokia in 2014.
“The Nokia facility was left as an orphaned child.. I tried my best… You know Microsoft took over Nokia but left the Nokia plant (due to double) taxing issue,” the Minister for Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology said.
“We are trying to work it out,” he told reporters at a CII organised event Chennai.
Elaborating further, he said, “We (the government) were on the job… We tried with one-two companies.. It did not work out.. Let me concretise and then disclose it to you… But, we are on the job (to make it operational).”
On the proposal by Apple, to set up a manufacturing facility in the country, he said, the government is in talks with them.
To a query, he said there were 40 lakh people working “directly” in the IT industry and 1.30 crore employed “indirectly.”
“I am very happy to tell you that one-third of them are women,” he added.
He said the number of mobile manufacturing factories in the country has increased to 108 from two that were operating earlier.
“Now 108 mobile manufacturing facilities have come up (across India) and about three lakh boys and girls are working directly and indirectly,” he said.
On the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana scheme, he said about Rs four lakh crore has been given to eight crore Indians in ticket sizes of Rs. 10,000, Rs. 50,000, Rs. 5 lakh, and Rs. 10 lakh.
The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana scheme provides access to institutional finance to small business units of various ticket sizes.
“50 percent of them were first-time entrepreneurs. Now, even if half of this eight crore Indians have added one job, there would be four crore new jobs,” he said.
Prasad also said the government has decided to set up 23 BPO centres targetting skilled employees present in Tier II and III cities in Tamil Nadu.
Already 19 BPOs were operational in places like Coimbatore, Mayiladuthurai, Tiruchirapalli among others, he noted.
“In the BPO jobs, the potential is 2,700 seats in total. Initial employment has been given to 2,500 people,” he said. Responding to another query, he said the government has set up 2.70 lakh Common Service Centres that would provide nearly 300 digital services.
“About 10 lakh boys and girls are working… Even you talk of BPO, they have started operating in places like Kohima, Imphal in the North East,” he said.
On his interaction with the core members of Confederation of Indian Industry earlier, Prasad said the members have come out with suggestions on GST and that he would look into it.
“What is important is, the larger objective of the Narendra Modi government, which is to perform, reform and deliver.. we (industry and government) have to work together to show that development,” he said.
On the initiatives taken by his Ministry, he said he discussed the story of Digital India, Skill India, Start Up India, smart cities with the members of CII, Tamil Nadu region.
“India’s digital initiative is one of digital inclusion to bridge the divide between the digital haves and digital have-nots. I also explained to them (CII members) about bankruptcy code, to GST, RERA. I also told them how Moody’s rating has made India positive,” he said.
Last month, the Moody’s Investors Service raised India’s sovereign rating for the first time in 13 years, saying growth prospects have improved with continued progress on economic and institutional reforms.
The US-based agency upped India’s rating to Baa2 from Baa3 and changed its rating outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘positive’ saying the reforms will help stabilise rising levels of ‘debt.’