2020: Goa needs to hit a perfect 6

Can Goa see a change in 2020? As we march into the New Year, the people of Goa remain at crossroads. The challenges are enormous. Goa will have to go the distance and hit a perfect ‘six’ if it has to emerge a clear winner in 2020. TG Life highlights the six big issues that Goa faces, and which will be decisive in the year ahead. Today, we take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of Goan industry and businesses. In the week ahead TGLife will dwell on other critical issues such as mining, tourism, employment, and electricity

| JANUARY 07, 2020, 02:17 AM IST


With great hopes and expectations on all fronts, Goa is already in 2020. Assessing the situation where we currently stand as far as industries and businesses are concerned, market experts are of the opinion that accepting the reality that mining issue has not resolved yet, we must move ahead and look out for other options. Yes, it was a big industry which fed many other small and big businesses, but now that door is currently closed, locks to other doors must be located and opened.   

Appealing small and big businesses to join the bandwagon of economy and participate in Vibrant Goa summit held in Goa in October 2019, the president of Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI), Manoj Caculo had expressed his wish  to resolve industrial problems jointly, and is of the opinion that Goa needs to focus on small industries and tourism after the closure of big industry like mining.   

Similar views are of experts like Dr Jagat Shah, the brain behind Vibrant Goa summit that saw business to business (B2B) and business to government (B2G) meetings, offered opportunities of investment and joint ventures. A total of Rs 450 crore of investment proposals were received and 52 countries participated.   

Founder at Global Network, Vibrant Markets, Mentor on Road (USA-India) and Smart Villages, Dr Jagat has joined hands with Goa government to uplift the State’s economy. 

He is now working on initiatives like field inputs to leadership on Make in India, Skill India, Start up India, Stand up India, Digital India, Clean India and Smart India. He is also working to convert 62 villages in India into smart villages in 1000 days. Those are big challenges. But not for a person like Dr Jagat, who has experience of working in Afghanistan with hundreds of carpet weavers, dry fruit farmers, pomegranate / raisin farmers and handicraft artisans by connecting them to global markets.   

Businesses can be run on four levels – micro, small, medium and big and Goa is not fit for big industries as it does not possess much land and such industries are polluting. However, Goa has potential for micro industries which eventually grow into small and medium. “If the government offers support  at the grass-root level, fresh graduates and women can start their own micro businesses,” observes Dr Jagat, giving an example relating to pharma industry.   

Goa has many pharmaceutical companies and if one studies what their needs are, these pharma companies could be great buyers if small investors begin manufacturing products needed by the pharma sector. In Gujarat, with the growth in pharma industries, many small businessmen set up tablet making machines and supplying them to these big companies, thus sustaining on this business initially. Gradually they grew big and now are exporting their products outside India.   

Dr Jagat who was in Goa in December to mentor local youth and women paints a positive picture, “We invited 40 youth, all graduates and unemployed for the mentoring workshop, and suggested 40 micro projects. Out of these 18 were girls. After the mentoring session, 80 per cent of them raised their hands in affirmation of starting their own micro start-up.” 

Recently 600 women in Goa came together for a two-hour programme, bringing with them handmade products. Whatever is made by hand is in great demand in foreign countries.

 “Instead of wanting water, power, land and labour to start a big industry, why not invest time and energy in one’s own art and produce beautiful artefacts which have demand abroad, is what we asked and they agreed,” shares Dr Jagat. Tourism related businesses could flourish too in the similar manner. Food processing business goes hand in hand with tourism. Tourists wish to taste the food of the world in Goa. Self-help groups can play an important role in providing this. If things are organized and minimum 10 persons come together to form a company with guidance from the government, food processing could prove to be a good business. As mining is currently standstill, Goans must look out for other options that may provide a decent income.   

“Goa needs to restart mining, as it was backbone for Goan economy. Agreed, that mining has to be in well-regulated and organized form, so that in future no similar issue arises. Goa also needs good direct sea connectivity to Mumbai or if possible to UAE in order to make faster movement of cargo,” opines Arman Bankley, CEO ARmines Industries. Arman feels that ease of doing business and single window clearance as promised, is need of the hour to streamline and to expedite the process for new businesses.   

Stating that Goa is unable to offer infrastructure to start big industries Nitin Kunkolienkar, former president of GCCI paints a gloomy picture of the industrial scene while claiming that the situation has been bad and disappointing since past 15 years.   

Nitin who is currently the national president of MAIT, the apex body representing India’s IT hardware, training and R&D service sectors observes, “There’s a recession at the moment, but there was hardly any new investment and any new expansion happening in the State for more than a decade. Not that the investors didn’t wish to expand, but the situation did not allow it. Investment Promotion Board (IPB) has been totally defunct. It’s waste of time to approach IPB. For the investors it is a punishment. Let me put it very bluntly – it’s a draconian system of harassing the industries. The approval from IPB is of no use.”   

Pointing out to tourism development measures, Nitin explains that some of the hotels were approved under section 8 but not given permission stating the reason of CRZ. “If CRZ law permits, then these hotels should have been given a nod. But that didn’t happen. Rather than correcting the faults in the process, IPB denied straight. Such instances give a wrong signal. The genuine industries who had IPB approval and got land, handed over the land back to the government when things were not moving ahead. This land should have been considered for the other proposals. But that too didn’t happen, so other investors backed out.”   

Unlike its name, the attitude of Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) seems to be anti-development, alleges Nitin. There are people sitting in this organization who simply harass, instead of offering facilitation and guidance. “People here are largely corrupt. GIDC does not want to help anyone. Recession is man-made in Goa. In my opinion GIDC must be either scrapped or privatized. It has collected so much money but done nothing for the people of Goa. There is no future for GIDC in Goa. The industries in Goa are surviving on their own efforts and GIDC has no role in their growth. There is no standard operating process. If the work is not started, they start charging you heavily,” says former GCCI president.   

Suggesting that IPB must act as institutional power-punch, Nitin suggests that GIDC must work as subordinate organisation. Claiming that the director of industries has to correct the situations and resolve the issues that industries face, but unfortunately he has not visited any industrial area in the State, Nitin feels that the government must take things seriously to clean this man-made disaster. “The chief minister has to review the ease of doing business. The industry minister is dynamic. He must concentrate on the job. Wise and swift actions are required to put things in place in 2020,” concludes Nitin.   

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