By Aroonim Bhuyan

New Delhi– The 90-odd Norwegian companies operating in India by and large find the business climate here favourable with many of them looking to increase staff in the near future — but bureaucracy and corruption continue to pose major challenges.

According to the first ever Business Climate Survey conducted by the the Norwegian Business Association India (NBAI) and Norwegian Consulate in Mumbai, in collaboration with Innovation Norway, the commercial section of the Norwegian Embassy in Delhi, 62 per cent of the companies found the business climate in India favourable.

The survey, the results of which were released last month, was conducted to assess the current and near future business climate for Norwegian companies with specific focus on the maritime sector.

There are around 90 Norwegian companies operating in India, the largest ones among them being Telenor, DNB, Aker Solutions, Kongsberg, Jotun, Statkraft Norfund Power, Det Norske Veritas and Elkem.

According to the survey, 59 per cent of these companies are looking to increase their workforce by at least 20 percent next year.

“Telecom, oil and gas, manufacturing, consulting, maritime and marine (fisheries) form the backbone of Norway’s economy,” Norwegian Ambassador to India Nils Ragnar Kamsvag told IANS.

He said over 35 per cent of the Norwegian companies are in the maritime sector.

According to Richard Chapman, Chairman of NBAI, Norway has the fifth-largest merchant fleet in the world. “They are here for two reasons — crewing and service,” he said

Kamsvag also said that the Norwegian State Pension Fund is the biggest sovereign wealth fund “and is one of the biggest foreign investors in India with investments of around $13-14 billion”.

According to the survey, the maximum opportunities in India for Norwegian companies lie in the areas of equipment supplies (83 per cent), ship design (75 per cent) and navigation systems (71 per cent).

The Indian government giving infrastructure status to ship-building has also got Norwegian companies interested.

“Most of our investments are technology-driven, like oil and gas out at sea in difficult waters and technology for deep-sea drilling,” Ambassador Kamsvag said. “We are the second-largest exporter of sub-sea technology.”

According to Chapman, Norway, where hydropower is almost 100 per cent of all power generated, can help India in this sector. He said Statkraft Norfund Power, Norway’s largest power generation company, already has a joint venture with Tata Power.

In terms of environment protection, the NBAI Chairman said that Norway can help in water supply, sewage and waste disposal and recycling. “Recycling is an area of expertise. What we are looking at (in India) is smart cities,” he said.

According to the survey, bureaucracy (50 per cent) and corruption (41 per cent) are the two main aspects affecting the ease of doing business in India.

Now with the government going for demonetisation, Chapman said that business was getting affected.

“They need to get the cash into the system fast. We are not getting enough cash,” he said. (IANS)