It does get a bit tiresome to be writing on a similar subject time and again, but when the number of complaints and instances of administrative failure keep coming, they just can’t be ignored. Two days after the government announced its plans for the Vibrant Goa conclave that will take place in the State in October next year and will aim at attracting investment from across the world, the president of the Verna Industries Association went public with a list of failures of the government in promoting industry in the State and even alleged harassment under the garb of ease of doing business.
That is a serious accusation, and Damodar Kochkar, the president of the Verna Industries Association, has minced no words when expressing his disgust at the workings of the government, and has warned that some of the big ticket projects will be lost forever if the harassment in the name of process continues. There are, he pointed out, at least 20 new big industries that are awaiting approval but have been unable to achieve them in the given time. It is this delay that led to the outburst from the VIA president, leading him to flay the government’s attitude to industry.
What did happen to the ease of doing business in the State that the government has been trying to promote? According to the VIA the 20 industries in question have been awaiting approvals for the last three months and there have been several inspections by various departments that have no role to play in the approval process, but still the permissions are not forthcoming. Kochkar’s fear, and a genuine one, is that if the approvals are further delayed the units will not hesitate to move to other States. “Goa will lose in all ways,” is what he said.
It does appear that not much has changed in the State since 2016. That was the year in which the then Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry president had said that some major companies were contemplating closing down their manufacturing units in the State and establishing them elsewhere. The chamber had gone on to list out the names of some of the major companies that had moved out of Goa in the earlier years due to the ‘unhealthy environment for industrial growth’ in the State. It is pertinent that Goa in was ranked 19th in the list of Indian States of the Ease of Doing Business Survey 2015.
Strangely, while procedures in most other departments can be completed online, the Industries Department is one of those that is still not internet savvy, so a process that would take three days online is now taking 10 days as files are manually moved from one desk to another, complains the industry. If that is the case, how can Goa ever claim to be industry friendly if the department that is in charge of attracting investment to the State is yet to go online? It can’t and that’s probably why investment has been so slow in coming into the State.
Industry closing down or being forced to move to other States due to delays in processes does not inspire confidence in other industry looking to set up units in the State. This makes the task of attracting investment, a lot more difficult, and additional pressure on the State to bring in investors. If we are losing jobs, rather than attracting new ones, then the target of 50,000 jobs in five years that had been set some time ago will not be met in the given timeframe, not even in an extended period. The government needs, therefore, to prioritise and keep industry in its top list.