Hit with the mining ban followed by the illness of former Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar and virtually two months of electioneering, Goa’s economy has passed through one of its worst phases.
The revenue loss due to the mining ban depleted the government coffers by at least 25 per cent. The hope ahead is that the worst is now behind us. The question that now arises is, where to begin from? Top leaders of the State which includes Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and his senior cabinet colleagues are of the view that to ensure ease of doing business it is absolutely mandatory on the part of the government to provide a realistic single window clearance system.
The Investment Promotion Board (IPB) is meant to deliver on this but it cries foul that it is toothless and none of the departments adhere to their suggestions, which ultimately forces the investor or an entrepreneur to run from pillar to the post in various departments in the corridors of the secretariat. It is no mean a task to oscillate between 22-24 departments. To ensure more transparency and speed of work a viable single window system needs to be strengthened by giving more teeth to IPB.
Industry Minister Vishwajit Rane in his recent address to the industry bodies like the Goa State Industries Association (GSIA) and the Goa Chambers of Commerce and Industries has very candidly warned Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) that any lackadaisical approach to work will not be tolerated.
Backing Rane, Sawant has also reiterated that very soon he will have an all department meeting to ensure that the functioning of these departments which are now working in silos will be streamlined, much to the respite of the entrepreneurs. Structural changes are necessary to bring about a turnaround in the state of GIDC. There are plenty of issues in terms of transfer and sub-lease of plots, primarily because of procedural delays which has led to huge dissatisfaction among the industrial units. The new transfer and sub-lease guidelines have arrested this problem to a great extent as the Managing Director has been vested with more powers and a deadline of 21 days deemed transfer has been set.
Keeping Vibrant Goa in mind, which is slated for mid-October this year, the Chief Minister has been very vocal in supporting this event with an expectation of some positive economic churning in the State. Even though GSIA has officially withdrawn its support to Vibrant Goa, the Chief Minister spoke in favour of the event while speaking at the GSIA annual general meeting, giving a clear message that petty politics and hindrances in the field of economic growth will not go down too well with the present government.
Another issue in which the government is showing its grit and flexing its muscles is on the role of ‘disruptive’ NGOs. Senior ministers have vehemently criticised the role played by NGOs in recent times, especially in regard to the development of Chimbel. In fact, the newly elected GCCI President has openly committed full support to the government if it takes this bull by its horns. For industry any disruption means loss of time, energy, money and resources.
Goa in past has painted a very dismal picture as compared to other States in India in the list of Ease of Doing Business. Last year many departments were asked by the then Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar to pull up their socks as Goa ranked 19th in India on Ease of Doing Business (EoDB). However, significantly Business Reforms Action Plan (BRAP) which was 18 per cent last year has now gone up to over 65 per cent. The top three States in the list of EoDB are Andhra Pradesh followed by Telangana and Haryana.
With the State government now planning to bring out a new Industrial Policy soon, a cohesive strategy for building a good industrial eco-system will be required which has to be multi-pronged. An equitable balance between the development and destruction has to be made very cautiously, while keeping the environment of the State on the highest pedestal.