Odisha for long-term relationship with Britain

Bhubaneswar, Aug 26 (IANS) Maintaining that the British government has over the years partnered with Odisha in several key achievements across sectors, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday batted for a long-term relationship with Britain.

“I think Britain can also be a key partner in areas like sustainable urbanisation, climate change, education, tourism and culture. I look forward to a continued long-term relationship and avenues for collaboration,” said the chief minister attending the event ‘Celebrating Partnerships – UK in Odisha’.

He said both Britain and Odisha have strong partnerships in various sectors such as industries, finance, health, tourism and infrastructure for more than three decades now and hoped that the present campaign will strengthen the existing partnership.

There are six ongoing programmes supported by the British government with a total commitment of more than 150 million pound.

The current programmes involve strengthening in governance and administration, and improving the urban infrastructure facilities in the state, he said.

“Amongst others, the DFID (Department for International Development) team has helped us to set up facilitation cells for guiding and mentoring prospective investors across the state. I am hopeful that the facilitation cells will go a long way in improving the investment climate in the state,” said Patnaik.

He said the state government has framed a new Industrial Policy Resolution for the state and brining in a number of reforms for improving Ease of Doing Business.

Apart from the power sector disinvestment, the British government supported the state in the introduction of VAT. “Consequently, our tax revenue has increased to more than 16 thousand crore rupees in 2013-14 from about 4 thousand crore rupees in 2004-05,” informed the chief minister.

The British government is also supporting the state government in automating the supply chain of PDS and paddy procurement system across all districts.

Visiting British Minister Desmond Swayne MP called for closer Odisha-UK partnership in the future.

“Since 2010 the UK-India relationship has undergone an important transformation. Together we have built a stronger, deeper partnership based on mutual respect. Trade links have been strengthened, business and innovation flourishes and extreme poverty continues to fall,” said the minister.

Stating that Odisha was one of the most vibrant and dynamic states in India, he said Britain will continue to work with Odisha government sharing skills and expertise.

“The UK wants to be Odisha’s partner of choice on its development journey towards increased prosperity. I am confident that the best days of our relationship are yet to come,” said the minister.

Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner Scott Furssedonn-Wood said: “We want to share more UK ideas and expertise as Odisha rises to the challenges of urbanisation and of climate change.

Above all we want stronger, deeper connections between our people so the partnership between the UK and Odisha will shape our shared future for the better.”

The deputy high commissioner is leading a delegation of UK companies specialising in urbanisation and Smart cities, climate change specialists and British education experts to participate in the various events.

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