The State government has been in power for a year and it has been trying to provide a boost to the system to attract investments and generate growth. Ajit John spoke to people to understand what was happening on the various plans proposed by the government
The current State government is in office for a year following the elections and policies have been drafted and presented to the public. The State machinery has to generate jobs by attracting investments. The large number of qualified young men and women leaving the State for other states has now reached worrying levels.
The government had come up with various policies to promote investments. The IT policy is a case in point. It has been a policy that has generated much debate in the state. Mangirish Salelkar, Chief Executive Officer - Umang Software and President of Goa Technology Association said that it was a matter of discussion for two decades and people were still talking about it.
He said, “The policy was notified in 2015 but nothing has happened. It has not been implemented. Now the IT Minister is in place and attempts are being made. I am now the President of the GTA which is a body of IT companies in the State. The State government has an idea of the eco system. They have learned of the number of active companies in Goa. This was clear from the budget. There are two things that are clear. Employment is important and it is also important to prepare the students for the challenges in a company”.
Speaking specifically about the IT policy, he said he had seen the draft and it focused on IT anywhere. One could, he said, start an IT company even in a garage. This could be done without having to entertain any questions. However he maintained that questions remained.
It was important that some relief out to be given for basic IT services like the rates one paid to accesses the Internet. The prices, he said, were 8 to 10 times that of cities like Bengaluru, Pune etc. Then there the small matter of the poor state of public transport. Hiring people from Panjim or Porvorim for a company based in Margao was difficult. It would mean the employee would have to leave the office at 6.30 to reach home before the sun set. This, he said, was not possible in a fast moving tech world. The last bus from Margao to Panjim was at 8.30 which was ridiculous, he said. The policy, he maintained, would be awesome but it was not a case of what was on the plate was digestible but whether they could be implemented. He signed off by saying that things had to move faster as compared to the glacial pace they were moving at right now.
Another policy that was talked about and which generated much traction was the ‘solar policy’. It came through last year but now things are stuck. It needs to get notified. The ground inspections have taken place but the loop has not been completed because the policy has not been notified. After the inspection no agreements have been reached because of this.
Anish Sousa, Founder and CEO – Sun360 who is involved in the process welcomed the general direction. He said “The government has taken a good decision in formulating the much awaited solar policy 2017. The provision for owners of small solar plants to sell on 'gross metering' basis makes adoption of solar very viable for residential customers. However, much needs to be done to streamline the application process & the inspection procedure, and to allay fears of non-payment of feed-in tariffs by the state discom (Goa electricity department)”. He however went on to say the government had definitely taken a step in the right direction towards implementing the solar policy. He hoped the government would operationalises the policy on a war footing as the policy had the potential to be a game changer with respect to preserving Goa's environment, reducing its dependence on neighbouring states for power & reducing transmission and distribution losses of GED.
This State is synonymous with football and tourism. The tourism industry has been growing consistently despite a drop in the number of international tourists visiting the State. The tourism policy like many things has been in the pipeline for years. Savio Messias, President TTAG said, “The process started in 2014 but it has not been finalised. The meetings have been held intermittently with long gaps in between. It should have been done in a year but at this pace I don’t really see it being ready for another two years. Very little has happened.”
All these policies all have to dovetail with a larger investment policy. Atreya Sawant the outgoing head of CII Goa chapter said the investment policy of the State was very good and several schemes had been devised. Things were moving and the government was working to make the department move faster. They were all being IT enabled so that they could be in sync and improve efficiencies.
Perhaps there is no better person that Santosh Kenkre Vice Chairman EDC who said the new initiatives were surely moving. He said “The IT minister has come in and he is very energetic and enthusiastic and by April we will have a world class incubation centre. Things are moving and gaining pace”
The change is slow but happening below the surface. For the future of the next generation, many will hope it all falls in place and increases growth.