Goa has climbed two places in the rankings of States in the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) released by Department of Industrial Policy and Planning. The State has moved forward from 21 to 19. The main reason for this is that the Business Reforms Action Plan (BRAP), which had stood at 18 per cent last year has now taken a long leap forward to 57.34 per cent, but this still does not place Goa in the top 10 States in the EoDB rankings. Achieving this will be a long and uphill climb for the State, as the BRAP score of all the States in the top ten bracket is above 90 per cent.
Andhra Pradesh tops the BRAP list with a score of 98.42 per cent, followed by Telangana with 98.33 per cent and Haryana with 98.07 per cent. These are largely industrialised States, with a presence of the IT industry. At 10th place, with a score of 94.70 per cent is West Bengal, a State that in the past was never seen to be business friendly, and from where major industries have pulled out in the past due to its unfriendly business environment. As against these scores, Goa’s 57.34 per cent gives no reason to brag about, but a percentage to build upon that will make Goa an investor friendly State, an aim of the government that is yet to be achieved.
Goa’s main focus has to be Information Technology advancement. As explained by an industry leader, BRAP scores are largely driven by the IT and technology advances made by the government. So if Goa hopes to increase its BRAP score, then it is here that it has to concentrate upon, but this could require a whole new way of thinking. Despite inputs from industry, the government’s Start-Up Policy released earlier this year and the schemes that followed it, received a very lukewarm reception from the people who matter most – the entrepreneur. Recall that it was meant to be the best Start-Up Policy in the country that would have investors making a beeline to the State. The IT Policy, expected soon, will have to balance the aspirations of the people and expectations of industry, if it is to meet with the approval of both and transform Goa into a favoured industrial destination.
Another view from industry is that the State is quick in granting approvals for starting business, but there is uncertainty later in the subsequent phase of setting up of the business, especially due to agitations from the people. To avoid this roadblock in setting up industry, it is necessary to have a proper industrial and investment policy that will welcome only such units into the State that will benefit the State and its people, and not lead to environmental damage or disrupt the social fabric of the State. Protests that have arisen against industry have always been in defence of the environment and the people.
Two years ago, the then president of the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry had spoken of the ‘unhealthy environment for industrial growth’ in Goa and stated that companies were contemplating closing down manufacturing units in the State. It should have acted as a wakeup call for the government leading to urgent and positive policy changes, backed by bureaucratic functioning that induced business confidence. More than 24 months later, Goa may have improved its rank in the Ease of Doing Business list, but it still has a long way to go and a transformation of its policy and planning if it expects to dethrone any of the States from the top 10.