Employment generation has been problematic for all the previous governments, and the case was no different for the government of Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar. However, he has promised again that if his party is voted to power it would work towards employment generation. The BJP’s election manifesto would focus on youth empowerment. How much that promise will attract youth is difficult to say. Over one lakh youth are unemployed. The BJP’s 2012 manifesto promised to create 50,000 jobs by attracting Rs 25,000 crore of investments. It also promised to give allowance between Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,500 to unemployed youth. Both the promises remained unfulfilled. The only major employment generation took place in the already bloated bureaucracy. The BJP-led government became the largest employer, adding over 5,000 government servants to push up the number of government servants to over 60,000 in five years of its rule.
The BJP-led government failed to create enough number of openings for the youth because of its failure to attract industries. Goa has largely educated unemployment. Besides, attitude of Goans is not positively inclined toward hard jobs. The softer and light types of jobs that are preferred by the Goan youth are not coming to the state for various reasons, including the cost of production and distribution issues faced by investors and the opposition from local people wherever a project site is selected. Though the BJP-led government has been trying to attract industries, it failed to overcome the opposition from the locals by convincing them that the setting up of industries was aimed at addressing the unemployment issue and for economic betterment of the state. In view of ubiquitous opposition, the ministry formed after the 2017 elections would need to deal with the opposition at the early stage. The government must remove the misgivings from the minds of local people, so that litigation is prevented. If a project does not stand up to the regulatory standards set by law it should not be allowed by the government. But if it does, the government should leave no room for professional alarmists to stop the project from coming up. For, without generation of new projects there would be no generation of employment.
The BJP-led government had a comfortable majority and was expected to use the tenure to attract a lot of industries to the state, but it could not. It took a long time to set up Goa Investment Promotion Board (GIPB) to accord clearance for investment projects. However, GIPB was given powers only to approve the project: the government had not made it a single window for clearance. Even after approval of the GIPB, investors had to obtain permissions for setting up project from different departments. In the absence of a fast-track, single window clearance, projects were delayed or found spokes put in their wheel by one department or another, thereby defeating the very purpose for which GIPB was set up. Of course, the state government never tires of claiming to have put Goa higher on the ‘ease of doing business’ graph, but the realities hit the investor in the face when they come to the state with a project. The government ought to frame a clearer policy that would take care not only of approval of a project but also of its smooth clearance from all departments. There should be a separate policy to overcome the opposition from local people on unreasonable grounds.
Parties in the opposition would surely make the failure of the BJP-led government to keep its promise of creating jobs an electoral issue. And it is very likely that every party in the opposition would make its own promise to the youth on creating job opportunities. Let it be said here that the record of the governments of other parties has not been any better in terms of employment generation. As the youth have been disappointed with different political parties on the issue of addressing unemployment, they should question every party and ask them for concrete solutions for the stalemate of investment. The stalemate is caused first by investors finding better opportunities and incentives in other states and secondly by opposition to the projects on one or the other ground. Whichever party has the best formula to remove the two obstructive factors from the path of investment and employment generation should win the vote of the youth. The youth make a sizeable section of the electorate, including the thousands who would be voting for the first time in 2017. It must be noted with certainty however that should a political party really be able to convince the youth about the soundness of their employment generation strategy it would not only win their votes but also the votes of their parents.