THE GAME CHANGER

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the J&K Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu on behalf of J&K Govt and Dubai Ports Chairman & CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem in presence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi is undoubtedly a land mark development in the economic history of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as it is a step towards giving an unprecedented boost to the economy of this state that has been at the receiving end during the past about three decades of militancy. This maiden direct joint venture of J&K with Dubai Ports World is aimed at establishing Multi-Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) and transportation hubs at Samba in Jammu and at Ompora in Kashmir that would include warehouses and specialized storage solutions including CA Stores and Cold Storage Chains for transportation of agriculture, horticulture and handicraft products and other trade-able goods from J&K directly to the markets worldwide bringing down the transportation costs substantially. Keeping up the promise made in his budget speech in the state Legislature last month Dr Drabu has been successful in attracting foreign direct investment to the tune of R 5000 crore by setting up two Dry Ports in the state to boost the local economy. It is hoped that this FDI will definitely go a long way in addressing the issue of development deficit in J&K as the main reasons for such deficit are cost structure and the missing multiplier. In the first phase an investment of R 1500 crore would be made by the Dubai Ports World in the multi-modal logistics parks (Dry Port) which would swell up to R 5000 crore over the next 5 years. This ambitious project is not only expected to bring down the transportation costs of goods, but also increase their market accessibility and transform the abysmal scenario wherein logistics accounts for about 18% of the total product cost in the State, as against 8-12% in other countries. Besides, the Logistic Parks will facilitate the local industry and trade in its transition from point-to-point freight movement to the hub-and-spoke model followed in developed economies of the world. As spelt by the fiscal Pundit Drabu himself, with this project the integrated transportation mechanism including air, road, rail and waterways would immensely improve efficiency in freight movement thus further bringing down the transportation costs and ultimately giving major fillip to the local economy. There is an old adage that Rome was not built in a day and it applies to the instant project too. Finalization of this project is the result of the hard efforts put in by the J&K Finance Minister under the patronage of the PM Narender Modi and CM Mehbooba Mufti following which Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, alongwith a team of Senior Executives of Dubai Ports visited J&K earlier this week to hash-out the modalities for setting up Inland Logistics Parks in Jammu and Srinagar and finalize the MoU in this regard besides the Dubai Ports delegation holding detailed deliberations with the Chief Minister, Finance Minister, Industries Minister and other J&K Government officials. When the project finally gets translated on ground the well-developed logistic sector will not only increase trade activity across all sectors but will also enhance the competitiveness of the businesses. Thus this project is set to be the game changer in the direction of making J&K a vibrant economy and it is hoped that the Finance Minister will not relent here but will continue clicking more such projects with multiple nations bringing in more FDI to the state in the coming time.