Herald: Will IPB single window portal attract investment?

Will IPB single window portal attract investment?

19 Jan 2019 05:44am IST
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19 Jan 2019 05:44am IST

The single window portal of the IPB has been inaugurated but will it change the situation in a State where jobs are desperately needed. Ajit John spoke to various people in the industry and even those who are keen on investing in the State to check their reaction

The single window portal of the Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board (IPB) was inaugurated earlier in the week. It is expected to ease the experience of those interested in investing in the State and generate jobs for the youth, important in a State that witnessed mass migration of the youth to other States for several years. This single window is expected change the face of the State, if one were to believe the government. But will it?

In Goa, no one is ever short of an opinion, it is freely offered and on this subject over a period of time much has been said. Goa needs a push to reinvigorate its economy and the jobs desperately. Vishal Prakash, CEO of IPB since his induction in the organisation is working very hard to attract investment. He felt this development was good but just one of many that was being planned. This would, he said ease the process of sending in proposals and getting approvals. 

Vishal said “Certain services of GIDC are on line. Right now, 60 services from 15 departments are online and eventually all services estimated to be around 400 will be online. If all the papers are in order then there will be no need for face to face interface which will bring down corruption.” He said that projects which were in CRZ zones would have to get their clearances before submitting the papers in the IPB. To ease the process, he said nodal officers from every department was now co-ordinating with the IPB to move projects ahead. Every week they were receiving one or two projects from interested parties.

That may seem fine and perfect in an ideal world but this is not an ideal world. For young professionals interested in launching their business, it can seem a bit daunting. 

Judah Fernandez of Nordic Intent said he first started his business in Mumbai and registered it in Goa. They used to outsource to other companies based in Goa but were unhappy with the overall mentality and the quality of work. They eventually decided to set up base in Goa and were very clear they wanted to stay away from the government machinery. Judah said “We were advised to approach this body and then look for a loan under a scheme for which it was available but we just decided no. We took money from our clients and set up operations and paid them off over a period of time”. They may have ducked that one but are facing problems of inconsistent supply of electricity which makes them fall back on the generator. In addition, the oxygen that drives their business, continuous supply of internet is a dream. As Judah put it with a staff running to more than a hundred, the loss per hour was substantial.       

For others who have business interests in various sectors and are keen on expanding the fear of speaking fearlessly can only be well imagined. Preferring to stay anonymous he said “If u go the website, it will not open on a mobile. It makes for a very difficult experience. Most of the start-ups I know are made up of very young guys who operate on mobile phones when they move around. Laptops are few and far in between.  And yes, the text does not fit the screen. It would be nice of the look and feel and the navigation could be more convenient. It could, I would hazard a guess reduce or stamp out corruption”. A concern voiced by many. Investors in the past have talked about the problem of greasing palms in the past. One of them, who was an investor from Bengaluru had said a single window clearance system meant, all the interested individuals to whom one had to show one’s generosity would now be available under one window. Others contacted for this story and not keen on giving their name said it was a very good move and eventually would make life easier but the issue of corruption had to be tackled. The officers, one person said would just get innovative and sophisticated in their operation. He refused to offer more information preferring to smile cryptically when asked for more information.

Perhaps a man who knows more of the system and its operations than most, Nitin Kunkolienker could offer his considered opinion. Nitin said “If you make a single window and it is not backed with ease or an accountable office then it is an additional window. In Goa, people are losing faith in the administration. It has become confusing corrupt and time consuming. Departments for that matter any department moves very slowly. There is no accountability. Over the years there have been several slogans but nothing else. We take two steps forward but three backwards.”

Speaking of IPB he said it was one of the best creations of the CM and investment had leapt in the early days. Then he fell sick and when he returned, he called back several projects because they were in the CRZ zone. The IPB had no power to clear those projects under Section 8. Section 8, Nitin felt should have been amended to give the body the power to clear the projects which may be in the zone but did not endanger nature but by not doing this, the CM had shaken investors confidence. The factory act he felt ought to be amended and the attitude of the departments had to change for Goa to survive and grow.

Otherwise as he put it the chaos one witnessed now, would be nothing in the years to come.

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