THE state government has given its approval to the Goa Information Technology (IT) Policy 2018 and the schemes framed under. The new policy is aimed at promoting Goa as a “vibrant destination” for the IT sector and creating employment opportunities for Goan youth. The new policy would be unveiled at a two-day event in Panaji over the weekend to promote the state as IT hub to attract investments. The government expects participation of over 1,000-plus stakeholders from IT, IT-enabled Services, corporates, startups and students in the event which has been billed as coming together for celebrating the spirit of IT, innovations and skilling. The new policy has lofty aims for development of human capital and fostering growth of small businesses through development of technology parks, ready-to-move-in warm shells, plug-and-play facilities and incubation centres with training for new and existing IT units.
The Goa government is making a new thrust to promote IT sector. Government efforts to promote Goa as an IT destination in the past have failed to meet the desired results. Though IT sector is suited to the state as it has abundant educated and English-speaking human resources it failed to take off. It is important to note that the latest thrust to promote IT sector in the state comes at a time when the sector has slowed down globally and the companies might be shy of making new investments in new centres. The policy aims to lure multinational and Indian companies with incentives to start operations in the state. Goa could have reaped the benefit had it succeeded in establishing IT sector when it was at its peak from the mid-1980s to mid-2000s. Absence of job opportunities in IT sector in the state left IT graduates among Goans no option but to migrate to other states. Under the new policy the government would give incentives to companies that recruit graduates from engineering colleges of Goa.
We have to see how far the optimism of the government to make the state a prime choice for investments in IT and related sectors works on the actual ground. Goa missed the IT bus because it could not afford to give land to investors free or at concessional rates as was done by other states. The land chosen for setting up an IT hub at Dona Paula commanded a premium but somehow the government failed to get going on it and the project had to be shelved. Since then various other alternatives have been proposed, including setting up of the Tuem Electronic City in Pernem taluka and the IT Park at Chimbel on the outskirts of Panaji. The foundation stone of the prestigious Tuem Electronic City, which the authorities had promised would create 25,000 jobs, was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016 but the project is still to roll. The buildings for the city were supposed to be completed in a year’s time from the time the foundation stone was laid. The project was to be fully operationalised in five years. After more than two years the authorities have given approval to the master plan for development of electronic city and the tender for road connectivity has been finalized. The IT project in Chimbel too has been moving at a snail’s pace. The only thing that has moved forward in the more than two years is the transfer of the land from the health department to the IT department. The government must speed up the Tuem and Chimbel projects.
Goa has all that it takes to favour establishing of a robust IT industry. It has educated workforce, a pleasant environment and a brand name. Goans are averse to doing industrial labour. Their temperament is more suited to industries like IT. The IT industry can take care of two major grievances the Goans generally have about industry: One, they do not pay as well as they do pay their employees in other states. Two, they cause pollution. The IT industry is not polluting, so there would be no red flags raised against any IT investor in the state. The government hopes to create 10,000 jobs in the IT sector. Has the government estimated how many candidates eligible for jobs in the IT and IT enabled Services (ITeS) can possibly be produced by the educational institutions of Goa per year? This kind of number cannot be made without companies recruiting candidates from other states. The government must see to it that the IT sector provides jobs to most of eligible Goans first before others get in.