The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government, last week, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with United Arab Emirates’ pioneering financial services company Century Financial for $-100 million in the union territory. The investment will cover three hotels and one commercial-cum-residential complex in Jammu and Kashmir.
The owner of Century Financial, Bal Krishen, is originally a native of the Doda district of Jammu and has been a forerunner in supporting J&K.
In an exclusive interview to News18 from Dubai, Krishen said this was the right time to invest in the UT. He said it was for the first time in 30 years that head of the government in the UT visited the UAE and invited individuals and corporate houses to invest in J&K. Krishen added that 700 direct and thousands of indirect jobs will be created with these upcoming hotels and residential complex in the union territory.
Excerpts from the interview:
You are going to invest almost hundred million dollars in Jammu & Kashmir, why did you choose the union territory when you had so many options in India?
I was born and brought up in Jammu and Kashmir. That is my native place. I am very attached and connected to J&K. That’s why I chose to invest there. Even though I am living in Dubai for the past 30 years, my heart and soul is in Doda, and the rest of Jammu & Kashmir.
Your company had an agreement of $-100 million with the government of J&K. What is the significance of this MoU, in respect of development and employment generation in the UT?
It is a commitment from my side and my group that we are going to invest this amount in J&K. We are going to build three hotels and one residential complex there. When lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha was in Dubai, he interacted with a lot of groups, individuals, corporate groups and institutions as he invited everyone. I think that every individual and corporate house should participate in the development of Jammu and Kashmir and even the state should work towards making it a favourite (investment) destination of the world.
Where would these hotels come up in the union territory? When can we expect the project to start and is there any timeline to finish it?
I am attached to my native place and my district in Jammu and Kashmir. Almost everyone feels the same. My first hotel, I would prefer in Doda, second hotel in Jammu and third in Kashmir. And these will be star-rated hotels.
Keeping in mind the Covid situation, we would be doing the groundbreaking by the end of this quarter, or the beginning of the second quarter. Hopefully, we will finish all projects in less than three years. These three hotels and residential complex will generate more than 700 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs.
When you were thinking about investment, did you factor in the security situation? Was there any assurance by the Indian side over security?
I know the situation on the ground. My only aim is to create jobs and do business, the rest is the job of the state. I have observed that in the past one-and-a-half years, since LG Manoj Sinha took over, there is a lot of change and positivity and decisions for ease of doing business have been taken. I appreciate Manoj Sinha and the industrial secretary for coming to Dubai and met corporate investors and invited them. This is for the first time in the past 30 years that a state head has come to the UAE and interacted with investors and invited them to visit J&K.
As the lieutenant governor had said that this is the right time to invest in J&K, do you think that after UAE-based companies, companies based in other countries will also follow suit?
I think this is the right time to invest in the UT, we should not wait for the state to do everything. Every individual in the corporate house, as per their experience and expertise, should participate in the development of Jammu and Kashmir.