Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday pitched for investment from United Kingdom-based firms in renewable energy and for creating smart cities, saying that UK’s strength in research and innovation and the implementation capability of his state can forge a unique partnership. During his meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who was on a brief visit to Bengaluru, he said: “The UK has been consistently ranked as one of the best countries in terms of Ease of Doing Business. Our state has achieved significant progress on this front in recent months.” He said Karnataka is putting in place the Bengaluru-Mumbai Economic Corridor, under which three greenfield self-contained townships will be set up. He added that Karnataka can work with the UK to create next-generation logistics, infrastructure and connectivity across fast-growing regions of southern and western India.
Siddaramaiah said 15% of UK-based companies in India are in Karnataka and employ 23,000 persons. These companies were primarily in ICT, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, health & life science sectors given Karnataka’s strength in technology and knowledge-based enterprises. Several Karnataka-based companies such as Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Dynamatic Technologies, Biocon and Microlabs continue to expand their presence and create jobs in the UK. Siddaramaiah said Bengaluru would host the much-acclaimed Aero India show in February 2017. Several British companies under the aegis of UK Trade and Investment have actively participated in previous shows. “We welcome the UK government and British industry to actively participate in this year’s event, and to chalk out a plan to build on our mutual strengths of aerospace and defence.”
‘Relax visa rules’
Chief minister Siddaramaiah made a case for relaxing UK visa rules, saying the fast-growing and high-value tech sectors rely on effective immigration policy that attracts high-skilled workers and minimises barriers to the flow of talented people. The movement of skilled tech workers from India should be seen as a trade priority rather than an immigration issue. Under the new visa rules announced by the UK Home Office, anyone applying after November 24 under the Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) category would be required to meet a higher salary threshold of 30,000 pounds from the earlier 20,800 pounds. “I request you to review the new policy so that the earlier threshold is continued,” he told May.