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Goa needs to ease up on biz norms
Goa has recently slipped from 19th to 21st rank among states in India in terms of ease of doing business. With the new government in place VIKANT SAHAY takes a look on what the industry and investors in Goa require from the government so that the business in Goa improves
Goa has recently slipped down from 19th to 21st rank in terms of ease of doing business, in the country. A dismal performance so far and many industrialists are now heading either to Telangana or Andhra Pradesh. Goa still retains the tag of a place for recreation and holiday, rather than business. In fact, realising the urgency, the Goa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has recently set-up a 4-member committee (all professors from the Goa Institute of Management) to study and make a report on ease of doing business in Goa.
This committee is likely to submit its report before GCCI in mid-April. The committee at present is carrying out an in-depth study on ease of doing business and is in discussion with a host of stakeholders which who help them come out with specific recommendation for the agencies involved in solving this issue.
Industry captains of Goa have raised this issues several times before the State government to simplify laws and make it industry friendly. Also, the demand for the actual functional single window system has been long pending, albeit it has been done only on paper.
The worry is not that Goa’s rank among the States has gone down from 19 to 21. What is really disturbing is that Goa’s overall performance under the 340-point Business Reform Action Plan is just 18.15 per cent. The national implementation average stands at 48.93 per cent, significantly higher 2015 national average of 32 per cent. This demonstrates the great progress made by most States this year and we have to judge our performance against this background. If Goa has to catch up with the rest of the States and emerge as a good investment destination, it has a lot of work to do.
Speaking to the Herald, former member of the Investment Promotion Board (IPB), Nitin Kunkoleinker said “The pattern and the style what the government has adopted in ranking the State on ease of doing business is only in respect to the new reforms which has been taken up post 2014. What we need is to map the State on the hurdles faced by the industry by the government. As far as Goa is concerned, in my opinion the Goa government is not blocking any process for the industry. Our major problem is that we being a small state have some issues with the land and hence we have to be very careful in distribution of land. In fact, many consultancy firms and units are delivering certificates without proper mapping. Every State has its own sets of issues which cannot be measured with the same yardstick. There are issues with village panchayats here in Goa too.”
He added that specially after the Assocham gave its report and the government of India ranking Goa 21st in ease of doing business has certainly led to strong introspection in the Goa government as the other stakeholders which includes industry and trade bodies.
“One of the saddest things which happend in Goa is that this news was taken as vengence by some people who want to settle scores politically. Business and industry should not be part of politics as it is the matter of survival of Goa’s citizens and stakeholders,” said Mr Kunkoleinker.
Stress was laid on to appreciate the fact that it is not only the role of the State government alone to come forward with regards the ease of doing business. “We need active involvement and engagement with all responsible trade bodies. We need to understand their role too in their effort to drive the State towards ease of doing business. These bodies need to identify the problems and come out with solutions to share with the government,” added Mr Kunkolienker.
Investment Promotion Board (IPB) approved projects worth investment of nearly Rs 8974.66 crore and a potential to generate 19,631 employment in the State, but ground realities differ. Out of the 126 projects which were cleared, 32 are Goa-based companies and about 53 are for Goa-based Goans. About a dozen projects and proposals were dropped. On a whole, about 60 per cent of all the projects cleared, belonged to Goans or to Goa based companies.
However, the chairman of Alcon Anil Counto Enterprises, Anil Counto who is into construction, building, auto industry, cement industry etc is disappointed with the way Goa government is operating. “Simple things, like getting NoCs takes ages to get cleared and it only happens after several visits to the table of the person concerned. The State is somehow surviving and it is just because of hardly five per cent people who are honest and are working for the development of the State. It is very difficult to do business in Goa and a nightmare for the upcoming next generation entrepreneurs. If it continues like this, we may land up last in the table of ‘Ease of doing business’. There is nothing easy in Goa. I hope that the new government will look into it.”
Damodar Kochkar, president, Verna Industries Association (VIA) told the Herald that the new state government needs to work a lot to make industry happy. “People have been running from pillar to the post and it takes not less than three months to get permission from the GIDC to sub-lease their land. Banks do not wait, they charge interest. Government should also be accountable and everything must have a timeline so that a business can function.”
However, Shekhar Sardessai, executive vice chairman and managing director of Kineco Limited, who also headed the CII chapter of Goa in the past said, “Goa took a forward looking and bold step by constituting a Goa Investment Promotion Board armed with single window powers. The objective was to facilitate the investment and improve the ease of doing business. I do believe, directionally the IPB is on the right track. However, I also do believe a lot more ought to be done to enhance its effectiveness so that it is able to deliver the stated vision, mission and the objective of the Goa Investment Policy. Overall, I believe ease of business needs a big push.”
Mr Sardessai further suggested that he would like to see the IPB to focus on some key areas, which are (a) Empower the CEO and strengthen his team with some key professionals; (b) Get a complete buy-in from GIDC, EDC and other government departments which are important to facilitate and accelerate the investment process. Without this, ease of doing business and time from IPB approval to actual investment roll -out and employment generation will not improve; (C) There is a need for a professional satellite consultant to be in place to objectively vet out the proposals and make sure they are aligned to the objectives of the Goa Investment Policy. This will improve transparency and governance of IPB and help alleviate unwarranted criticism of IPB decisions; (d) Goa needs land banks to fuel further. Taking back the SEZ land is an absolute priority which should not be delayed any further.